Link to this page

The Short Sentence: Throw in Few to Improve Readability

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

Some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. (1 Corinthians 12:22, NLT

A Word For Writers

The Short Sentence with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips #readability #editing

“Keep sentences short.” 

That is the first of ten clear writing principles recorded by American businessman Robert Gunning, the creator of the readability Gunning Fog Index.   Fog being lack of clarity, of course. 

Gunning believed that writers “need a set of principles that strike at the root of Fog …to serve as a useful guide to clear thinking, and thereby to clear writing.”

Once a sentence is 21 words or more, readers find it hard to understand. But research shows when the average sentence length is fewer than eight words long, readers understand 100% of it

The short sentence is a fixture in the Bible, starting with the legendary short-of-shorts, “Jesus wept” (John 11:5, NLT).

But in scripture, short sentences are interspersed with medium-length sentences and even run-ons. For instance, the four-word directive, “You must not steal” (Exodus 20:15, NLT) is followed by instructions not to lie (8 words) and the command against coveting (30 words). 

The Bible gives us a helpful model for readability:  vary sentence length. And use some short sentences to avoid fog. 

A Wise Word

Use short sentences to improve readability.

A Word To Pray

Loving Father,

Thank you for the variety you’ve placed in our world. Let me consider ways to vary the mechanics of my writing to communicate clearly.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

More Devotionals for Writers

The Run-On Sentence: Don't Make Readers Work So Hard ...

The Pencil: God Sharpens the Ones He Uses ...

The Readability Tool: Why You Should Write Like an 8th Grader ...

The Extra Words: How to Cut Them Out (and Why You Should) ...

The First 100 Words: Write a Summary, Place It at the Top...

The Word Choice: Use Simple Language Whenever You Can ...

Wise Words: Devotionals for Writers ...

More Devotionals for Writers on our Pinterest board ...

Join other Christian Writers in the Writing for Ministries Community ...

Free Mini-Course: Getting Started Writing Devotionals ...

Get more devotionals for writers delivered to your inbox each week:

Get Wise Words Now

Return from The Short Sentence to Nonprofit Copywriter home

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Powered by SBI! Learn more here.
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Search This Site

Share This Page


Named to 2022 Writer's Digest list

Get Free Writing Tips

Stop Wasting Time!

Grab your exclusive FREE guide, "5 Simple Writing Tips You Can Put to Use in 10 Minutes or Less"

XML RSSSubscribe To This Site
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!