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Effective sentences

Use the following guidelines to create effective sentences:

  • Be concise. Regardless of the type of document you are writing, you should always keep your sentences concise. To avoid confusing the reader, most sentences should have no more than 20 words. However, you might occasionally need to group several ideas together. In these situations, it is acceptable to exceed this limit.

  • Avoid unnecessary and repetitious words. This will help you prevent redundancy in your sentences. Some commonly overused words include “to,” “that,” “who,” “which,” and “the.”

  • Use active voice. Try to use active voice instead of passive voice. Passive sentences are typically longer and more difficult to read than active sentences. Here are two examples:

    • Active — The regional manager will handle all complaints.

    • Passive — All complaints will be handled by the regional manager.

    Active sentences tend to make stronger statements and are more to the point. However, you might use passive sentences to soften bad news because they can seem less accusatory to the reader.

  • Eliminate run-on sentences. Run-on sentences typically contain too many ideas and confuse the reader. Many compound sentences are actually run-on sentences that should be broken into separate statements.


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