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Make short sentences

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Follow the rule “One idea, one sentence.”

Don’t put too much information into one sentence.

Long sentences make it difficult to understand a text because they consume a lot of short-term memory.

It’s not so much of a problem if you have just one long sentence. It’s a big problem, however, if you have a succession of many long sentences.

Instructions (procedures) need especially short sentences because users must both read and act almost simultaneously, which limits their short-term memory. Never describe more than two actions within one sentence.

Write so that your reader has to read each sentence only once. Most readers aren’t willing to read a sentence a second time.

If readers who didn’t understand a sentence do read a sentence a second time: They’ll be angry that you’ve stolen their precious time.

If readers who didn’t understand a sentence don’t read a sentence a second time: They’ll miss an important piece of information. Maybe they even fail to use your product correctly.

Short sentences force you, the author, to be clear. This can be hard when writing a text, but it’s essential for your readers. If you can’t shorten all sentences, even occasional shorter sentences are helpful.

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