Keep It Short and Simple

Posted on: May 10, 2009

As a rule of thumb, keep your paragraphs, sentences and words short and simple. In a nutshell, this means:

  • one subject to a paragraph
  • six to eight lines in a paragraph
  • 25 or fewer words in a sentence
  • small words

Most people learn best when material is presented in “chunks,” with the subject clearly defined. The eye can grab and digest six to eight lines quickly. Sentences longer than 25 words are more complex and tend to be less easily understood by most readers. Remember to vary the length of your sentences for the sake of interest and readability.

What is a “small word”? Plain language. Generally, a “small word” has only one or two syllables and is of Anglo-Saxon, as opposed to Latin, origin. For example: food vs. comestibles, house vs. domicile, drink vs. beverage, watery vs. aqueous, guess vs. conjecture, end vs. terminate. You get the idea.

Keep it short and simple, and your writing will be clearer and more concise. Do not build monuments to obfuscatory sesquipedalian tergiversation.


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