I've been frequently recommended to use simple and short sentences, especially in the technical writings where clearness is important. It seems English readers are also comfortable with this style of writing?

For example, this is a part of an article I am working on (the sentences may be familiar to you ;) )

I tried to keep them short and simple, but I am afraid that they don't sound good or professional to the reader? And maybe some sentence combination or conjunctive adverb are required?

I highlighted the beginning of each sentence to ease the reading.

In this section we describe the algorithm for extracting data from a webpage. The algorithm utilizes the wrapper created in the previous section. The input of the algorithm is the DOM tree of the webpage, the list of anchors and the contexts created by the user. Then, the nodes of the DOM tree are traversed recursively in depth-first manner. By visiting each node, it is matched against the list of anchors. If it matches any of the anchors, the anchor is marked as “active”. If this anchor belongs to a context, we check whether the anchor marks the beginning or ending of the context. ...

Is it the style you recommend?

  • 1
    The main problem is not the brevity of the simple declarative sentences, but the transitions. "Then" is a non-sequitur. And "By visiting ..." implies that a match is performed merely by visiting the node. You want to say "As each node is visited in turn, it is matched against the list of anchors".
    – TimR
    Jun 23, 2015 at 15:19
  • 1
    Again the more you read English texts, the more you'll be aware of the variations in style, length, and density of sentences that exist. Hemingway versus Faulkner.
    – user6951
    Jun 23, 2015 at 16:28
  • For the portion that describes the algorithm, I find the short sentences appropriate. The first 3 sentences are so closely related, however, that seeing them as separate sentences makes it seem like an elementary school reading book. I would combine them, probably into two sentences, because a single sentence would indeed run the risk of being too long and losing the reader.
    – phoog
    Jun 23, 2015 at 16:56
  • 1
    @Ahmad Metaphorically speaking (various actions in boxing for sentences): short sentences are like hooks, long sentences are like jabs and uppercuts, transitional parts are like steps. A fighter may jab, hook, jab, hook, step, hook, hook, hook. A boxer may jab, jab, jab, uppercut, step, jab, step, uppercut, jab, jab, jab, hook, step, jab, jab, jab. An experienced boxer (similar to pazzo's comment) would know when he should do what. Jun 23, 2015 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


Using a lot of short sentences consecutively when writing a text is called staccato style. This refers to a term used in music where a note is played very briefly and is not sustained.

In writing this results in a text that is difficult to read, which is unpleasant for your reader. You don't want them to stop reading, which is why you need to make sure your text is not difficult and pleasant to go through.

Now, to comment on your text. Your sentences are not extremely short, but instead of using a full stop all the time you should try linking some of them together using conjunctions.

Let's take this sentence for example:

By visiting each node, it is matched against the list of anchors. If it matches any of the anchors, the anchor is marked as “active”.

You could change this like so in order to have less short sentences in your text:

By visiting each node, it is matched against the list of anchors and if it matches any of those, the anchor is marked as “active”.

Note that I also changed the anchors once to those to avoid repetition. Make sure you vary in your text using synonyms and avoid repeating a word too many times.

Try to adapt your text by transforming some clauses into subordinate clauses through the use of subordinating conjunctions (which, that, who,...) or link certain clauses together using a coordinated conjunction such as and, a colon (:) for explicitation, a semicolon(;) or a comma (,).

However, don't adapt your sentences if it would make the instructions unclear. Indeed, especially instructive texts often use a style that resembles the staccato style to ensure that the reader does not misinterpret the instructions.

  • 1
    Are you sure you want that sentence to begin "By visiting each node..."? How does a mere visit perform a match?
    – TimR
    Jun 23, 2015 at 15:11
  • @TRomano Maybe I should say, it is checked against... (Ahmad)
    – Ahmad
    Jun 23, 2015 at 15:13
  • 1
    The problem word is "by".
    – TimR
    Jun 23, 2015 at 15:14
  • And staccato style is not an apt description. The brevity must be much more extreme for it to qualify as "staccato".
    – TimR
    Jun 23, 2015 at 15:15
  • 1
    I didn't say that OP's text was written in staccato style. I used that term to explain what would happen if you use really short sentences consecutively. I pointed out that the OP's sentences were not extremely short thus not actual staccato style.
    – Vlammuh
    Jun 23, 2015 at 15:19

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