Letters become words and words become sentences. Being smart in how you write your sentences is key to successful digital writing. The way you construct your sentences will affect the way your reader responds to what they see.
In looking over the “Sentences” post of “Construct Clear, Compelling Copy” in the Yahoo Style Guide, I learned some key yet simple concepts. As Professor Nixon states in “Word Nerds Unite: 19 of William Safire’s Best Fumblerules of Grammar” it is important to “avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.” Run-on sentences are often a result of rambling which Ben Herrman lists as one of the don’ts of digital writing. Being concise is absolutely necessary for creating a clean compelling copy. If your word order makes sense and your grammar would be approved by Grammar Girl, then you are making it easier for the reader to process through what you are trying to communicate. Also, when sentences are short it is easier to scan through.
Constructing a clear sentence doesn’t stop there. There are more key concepts:
- Do not have sentence ADD; focus your sentences. This means you don’t give more than 1 main point in a sentence.
- Put the most important information at the beginning of a sentence. If someone is scanning it is where their eyes will first be drawn to.
- If you list something, explain it in the same order you listed it.
- Breaking up a subject and verb with a parenthetical statement in between can cause confusion.