Imagine reading a sentence that spans up to five lines. You feel lost in the middle of nowhere, scouting for the points. It feels like the brain is swollen and will burst the next minute. You fling the piece away without wasting time.

Grammarians call this compound-complex structures, but it’s just a sentence bloat. Curing sentence bloat makes a sentence readable. It is writing something that is easy to read. It is vital for writers and editors to give equal attention to the grammaticality, sensibility and readability of a text. Sentence bloat is caused by over-indulging and difficult words, wordiness and lazy editing.

Here are tips for writers and editors on how to cure sentence bloat and enhance readability.

  1. Cut long sentences.

Long sentences result in fragmentation and dryness. It makes readers work too hard to figure out the point. Long sentences make it difficult for readers to follow easily. Check this out.

The writer was corrected although in another article (A Robust Economy under Jonathan than Now) I wrote, drawing his attention to what recession means (a negative economic growth) which the nation went through in 2016, as against the time he cited, when there was a positive growth.

The Sentence has 47 words. The points being made are blur. Who corrected the ‘writer’ in ‘another article’? It’s also difficult finding the referent for ‘When there was a positive growth.’ Let’s review this.

In another article, “A Robust Economy under Jonathan than Now”, I corrected the writer by defining recession. Recession is a state of serious economic downturn. The nation experienced this in 2016 than any other time.

Isn’t this clearer? Long sentences don’t make a great message. The shorter sentences do make the message clearer.

  1. Kill modifiers

Avoid adjectives and adverbs like ‘really’, ‘very’, ‘actually’, and so on. Strong nouns and verbs work better than adjectives and adverbs. Modifiers are important in language, but relying on them to add vigour to the text makes the text weak:

Our new state-of-the-art widget is exceptionally efficient, working more swiftly than any other model on the market.

Here is the revision:

Our new LX5 widget handles projects five times faster than the OP4, the current market favourite.

The excess words slack the pace of your writing and buries your message. Don’t make readers search your text to find the substance. Cut through the excess for sleek text that holds attention and enthusiasm.

  1. Flush the vocabs and synonyms

Using two, three synonyms in a sentence freaks. Readers lose touch with the goal of the text. Verbosity causes sentence bloat. Just look at this.

The birth of an Independent Nigeria, comprising of a cynically contrived union of disparate, disjointed and haphazard groupings, could in human terms, be likened to the birth of an anomaly bordering on the bizarre and freakish. (Guardian)

‘Disparate’, ‘disjointed’ and ‘haphazard’ are synonyms. This is the same for ‘bizarre’ and ‘freakish’. Piling synonyms together in the same sentence is unnecessary. It’s better to pick the one that best explains the thought.

Remember: The only purpose of a sentence is to get your reader to read the next sentence. Hence, keep it concise, and simple.

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