Sentences

Keep your average sentence length short

Your average sentence length should be 15 words or fewer. This doesn’t mean no sentence should be over 15 words – variety in sentence length creates rhythm and interest. But remember, short sentences are easier for the reader to absorb. Long sentences quickly become confusing.

Keep to one or two clauses per sentence

Don’t add lengthy sub-clauses between the main subject and verb, or the verb and object. This vision statement, for example, is too convoluted:

The facility will provide an integrated suite of platforms operating at world’s best practice and will thus become the provider of choice for those research services that underpin the enhancement of the nation’s health, well-being and the economy.

Instead, write something like:

Our integrated suite of platforms will demonstrate best practice. We aim to become the first choice of those research services that enhance the nation’s health, well-being and the economy.

Be concise

Cut all unnecessary words, phrases and sentences.

When we receive your email, we will be in touch to ascertain any further details with you so we can best match your area of interest with an available supervisor. Once we have confirmed that you meet the entrance requirements, that the laboratory and infrastructure is available for your research and suitable supervision is available you may be invited to lodge an application form online. Applicants need to contact the Faculty at the email address stated above at the enquiry level before lodging their application to become a candidate.

Be ruthless. Instead, write:

Email us before you apply. We will contact you to discuss your interests. We then:

  • match you with a supervisor
  • ensure a laboratory and infrastructure is available
  • confirm you meet the entrance requirements.

If you meet the criteria, we may invite you to lodge an application form online.

The edit uses around half as many words, yet says the same thing.

Know what you are trying to say

A lot of writing lacks a clear goal. If you’re not sure of what you're trying to say, your reader won’t know either.

When writing or reviewing content, list the important things you need to say. Check your written content against this list, and remove anything that doesn't need to be there. Stick to the point.