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Tip -- Keep Sentences Short

In an earlier post, we recommended that you keep this mantra in mind when writing policies and procedures for your organization: Time is money and people are busy! Your colleagues don’t get paid for plowing through long-winded prose in your company procedures manual. Cut to the chase and keep sentences short.
When possible, limit the average number of words per sentence to 15 to 20. This does not imply that all sentences must adhere to 15 to 20 words. Of course, you may vary your sentence length for emphasis but use short sentences for instructions or information that you want your reader to remember.

Tips for writing shorter sentences:
  • Read the sentence aloud. If you have to take a breath, you need to shorten or break up the sentence.
  • Avoid wordiness by cutting useless modifiers and breaking up long thoughts into several sentences.
  • If the topic is complicated, balance it by using short sentences to explain things. Even if the sentence sounds choppy, readers will remember a short sentence better than a long explanation.
  • Avoid clutter. If your sentence contains several points, consider breaking them into a list.
Watch our upcoming posts for more tips and techniques that you can use for writing policies and procedures that deliver more value.
You might also want to check out our webinar series, particularly our How to Create User-friendly Procedures webinar.