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Sentence lengths for impact

The effect of sentence length is counterintuitive. A short sentence slows down the reader, whereas a long sentence speeds us to its end. As others have observed, long sentences take readers on a journey; short ones tell the gospel truth.

We can combine the two in copywriting to great effect. If we state our features and benefits in short sentences, we can complement these by explaining them in longer sentences. For example:

Traditional blue widgets need minimal maintenance but have to be replaced frequently, and that’s becoming more of an issue in increasingly complex assemblies.

Enter the additional flange.

This simple design enhancement, only available on the Blue Widget Company’s X-Line range, doubles the lifespan of the average widget, with the result that everyone’s been after.

Big cost savings for your user.

Note how the short sentences, stating the feature and the benefit, make us pause and take in what they’re saying. The long sentences give us the bulk and the rhythm, as well as the explanation.

Many copywriting articles tell us to keep our sentences short, to improve readability. While that’s true, it’s the combination of sentence lengths that can really have impact.