What You Need To Know About The Average Sentence Length (2023)

Are you curious about the average sentence length? Learn more about using longer sentences and shorter sentences in your work below!

InEnglishclass, you probably learned how to write for a specificword count; however, as you progressed through school, you focused more on the quality of your work instead of thenumber of wordsyou used or theaverage word lengthof your work; however, it is still crucial that you think about thelength of a sentence, along with your use ofcommasandsemicolons.

There are a variety of metrics you can use to track your readability. This includes your Flesch and Gunning scores. These are commonly included in free grammar checkers or extensions that show readability statistics, including those with WordPress. In general, shorter sentences and paragraphs will improve your readability, making it easier for your readers to process your information.

How might the averageparagraph lengthor sentence length impact thereadabilityof your work? Learn more below.


  • What Is Sentence Length?
  • What IstheAverage Sentence Length?
  • What IsReadability, and Why Does it Matter?
  • Should I Use aReadabilityCalculator?
  • How Long Should My Sentences Be?
  • Final Word onAverage Sentence Length
  • FAQs AboutAverage Sentence Length
  • Author

What Is Sentence Length?

What You Need To Know About The Average Sentence Length (1)

Before exploring the details of the average sentence length, it is important to understand what we mean when talking about sentence length. InEnglishgrammar, this term refers to thenumber of wordsyou use in a sentence. Take a look at a few examples of sentence length below:

  • John watched Mary run down the hill: 7 words
  • John sat down to watch a few cartoons with Mary, Jill, and Jack: 13 words
  • John walked all the way to school with Mary, Jill, and Jack: 12 words

It is relatively easy to calculate thenumber of wordsin a sentence. This is important because a lot ofreadabilityformulas use thenumber of wordsin a sentence to quantify how difficult the text might be to read.

On the other hand, there are situations where a shorter sentence might be harder to read than a longer sentence. For example, if there are a lot of long words in a single sentence, this could make the information harder to comprehend. Furthermore, if a longer sentence contains a lot of coordinate structures, it could be easier to interpret.

(Video) Sentence Length

In general, you should vary the length of your sentences to make your work easier to read. That way, you can emphasize essential points while avoiding the monotony of using the same sentence structure repeatedly.

Now that you understand how sentence length is calculated, what is a goodaverage sentence lengthfor you to use? How arereadabilityformulas calculated?

What IstheAverage Sentence Length?

What You Need To Know About The Average Sentence Length (2)

Importantly, there is no bestaverage sentence length. You need to think about the nature of your work and how many words are required to communicate your point. At the same time, research has shown thattheaverage sentence lengthofEnglishwork hasdecreased significantlyduring the past few centuries.

Some scholars have done a significant amount of work researching the average length of sentences. For example, information published by L.A.Shermanshowed thattheaverage sentence lengthof work published in 1525 was just over 63 words per sentence. In 1595, about 70 years later,theaverage sentence had declined to 41 words per sentence. In the 1820s,theaverage sentence was about 26 words per sentence.

Today, the average sentence length is between 15 and 20 words. This is significantly lower than it was in the past. If you have ever read works from Medieval times, you will probably notice that the sentences were much longer. If you want your work to line up with modern expectations, then shorter sentences are probably better.

What else do you need to know about sentence length?

What IsReadability, and Why Does it Matter?

If you are trying to publish your work today, particularly online, then you have probably heard about readability scores as they relate to your average sentence length. The most important thing for you to remember is that you must effectively communicate the information in your text; however, readability scores might make it easier for someone to interpret your writing.

Readability refers to how easy your information is to interpret. If your work’s readability is high, it should be easier for people to understand your sentences. On the other hand, a low readability score could mean that people struggle to understand what you say. If someone is trying to read something with a low readability score, they may spend most of their energy unpacking the writing style instead of focusing on the substance.

(Video) How to Use the Sentence Length Report

What Is aReadabilityScore?

Areadabilityscore quantifies how easy it is for someone to absorb your writing. There are multiple types ofreadabilityscores out there, and all of them are calculated differently. For example, some of the most popularreadabilityscores include theGunning-Fogmetric, theFlesch-Kincaid reading score, and the Hemingway Editor. Even Grammarly has its ownreadabilityscore.

Numerous factors play a role in calculating areadabilityscore. These include:

  • Thelonger a sentence is, the lower yourreadabilityscore will be.
  • The longer youraverage word lengthis, the lower yourreadabilityscore will be.
  • The longer your paragraphs are, the harder your work might be to interpret.

Because everyreadabilityscore is calculated differently, not all of the factors above will be included in eachscore. The scoring scale is different for eachreadabilitycalculator as well. For example, the Hemingway Editor will give you a “grade level” for your reading score, with a higher grade level being harder to interpret. TheFlesch-Kincaidreadabilityscore goes as high as 100. A score of 60 can be easily understood by teenagers, while a score of 100 is easy for an elementary school student to read.

How To Improve YourReadability

If you are looking for a way to improve yourreadability, there are several tips you should keep in mind. These include:

  • Try to use short words that are easy to understand. For example, if you have a word with more than four syllables, you may want to consider replacing it with a shorter word.
  • Try to keep your average sentence length short as well. If you notice you are using a lot ofcommasandsemicolons, consider breaking uplonger sentenceswith a period.
  • You can also shorten your sentences by removing a lot of adjectives and adverbs that are unnecessary. A lot of these words also have a lot of syllables, so that may shorten youraverage word length.
  • If you have a lot of jargon in your work, you may want to remove this. Jargon does not often make for easy reading.

Even though the font of your work is not necessarily included in yourreadabilityscore, it could make it easier on the eyes. Consider using a font that is easier for your readers to absorb.

Should I Use aReadabilityCalculator?

Even though you might have access to a freereadabilitycalculator, you need to think carefully about whether you should use it in your work. There are several benefits of using areadabilitycalculator. They include:

  • It gives you an instant analysis of your work, letting you know if it is easy for people to understand.
  • Areadabilitycalculator uses an objectivemetric, making it easy for you to figure out how the score is being calculated.
  • Some online publishers will require you to hit a specific score on a certain readability calculator, so you may want to use one to write your work.

On the other hand, there are a few drawbacks to using areadabilityformula as well. These include:

  • Just because your work is easy to read does not necessarily mean it is easy to understand. For example, short sentenceswith short words can also be difficult to interpret.
  • Because everyreadabilitycalculator is different, you could get very different scores for the same text.
  • There are some situations where you might need complex words and sentences to communicate difficult ideas effectively.
  • There are exceptional works of literature that have very lowreadabilityscores.

Think about the benefits and drawbacks of usingreadabilitycalculators before you use this to drive your average sentence length.

How Long Should My Sentences Be?

So, how long should your sentences be? The answer is that it depends on a number of factors. A few important points to keep in mind include:

(Video) Comparison: Prison Sentence Length

  • Vary Your Sentence Length: Above all else, make sure you vary your sentence length. You do not want to use a bunch of super short sentences, and you do not want to constantly use long sentences either. If you use the same sentence structure all the time, your reader is going to get forward. There are some situations where short sentences are better. There are other situations where longer sentences might be better.
  • Think About Your Message: You should also think about the complexity of your message. How simple is the idea you are trying to communicate? If it is relatively straightforward, then you may be able to get away with shorter sentences. If your idea is exceedingly complicated, then you may have to uselonger sentences.
  • Be Concise When You Can: Avoid using adjectives and adverbs where they are unnecessary. If you can keep your ideas concise, then do so.
  • Look at Other Work in Your Field: It may also be helpful to look at other examples of written work in your field. For example, if you are writing a children’s book, your sentences will probably be shorter. Take a look at other children’s publications. If you are writing a research paper, your sentences will probably be longer. Take a look at other research papers to see how your work should look.

If you keep these ideas in mind, you should easily hit the rightaverage sentence length. If you have questions or concerns about the length of your sentences, you may want to have someone else take a look at your work. They may have suggestions you can follow.

Final Word onAverage Sentence Length

There are a lot of factors to consider when you are trying to figure out how long your sentences should be. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources you can use to improve your sentence link. If you want your sentences to work for you, you may want to check out theOxford Guide to PlainEnglish, resources fromWylie, or even aMicrosoft Wordgrammar checker.

Keep in mind that you should not define the quality of your work based on your sentence length. There are situations where your sentences need to be shorter. There are other situations where your sentences might need to be longer. If you vary the length of your sentences, you will have an easier time holding your reader’s attention. That way, you will have an easier time communicating your ideas.

FAQs AboutAverage Sentence Length

Is it better to havelonger sentencesorshorter sentences?

There is no right answer when it comes to the length of your sentences. However, you need to make sure you have sentences that appropriately communicate your ideas. There are some situations where you might needshorter sentences, but there are other situations where you might needlonger sentences.

Should I use areadabilitycalculator when I am writing?

There are certain situations where it might be good to rely on areadabilitycalculator. This is particularly important if you have to hit a certain number to submit your work; however, areadabilitycalculator is not always necessary. A goodreadabilityscore does not necessarily mean you have effectively communicated your ideas.

(Video) Free TOEFL writing fdbk for MJ: Your average sentence length is 41 words! Your score is 25-27 pts.

How can I shorten my sentences?

Look for sentences that have a lot ofcommasandsemicolons. Consider breaking these up into multiple sentences. Then, consider eliminating your adjectives and adverbs if they are unnecessary.

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    (Video) Legal English writing: Unit 2 - Sentence length.

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What You Need To Know About The Average Sentence Length? ›

The average sentence length is between 15–20 words. In most cases, the shorter the sentence, the better. This is because in today's age, many readers have shorter attention spans and want rapid information. But, there's more to sentence length than just keeping them short.

How do you determine the length of an average sentence? ›

To calculate the average sentence length, we need to divide the number of words by the number of sentences in a text sample. To find the percentage of long words, we divide the number of long words by the total number of words and multiply the result by 100.

What is the best average length for a sentence? ›

Smart writers aim for sentences somewhere between 14 and 20 words on average.

What is the ideal average sentence length in a report? ›

Appropriate Sentence Length

Most readability formulas use the number of words in a sentence to measure its difficulty. Try to keep the average sentence length of your document around 20–25 words. This is a good rule of thumb to convey your meaning in a balanced way and avoiding a marathon or choppy sentences.

Why is sentence length effective? ›

Longer sentences add rhythm to your writing. By using both short and long sentences, you add interest and drama to your writing that keeps your readers' attention.

How does sentence length affect the reader? ›

Studies from the American Press Institute have shown that when the average sentence length is 14 words, readers understand more than 90% of what they are reading. At 43 words, comprehension drops to less than 10%. Long, complicated sentences force users to slow down and work harder to understand what they are reading.

What is an example sentence on average? ›

She was an average student. She thought the performance was just average. Verb The teacher averaged the students' grades. What figure do you get when you average the amount of rainfall for the last three months?

What is the definition of sentence length? ›

In English grammar, sentence length refers to the number of words in a sentence. Most readability formulas use the number of words in a sentence to measure its difficulty.

How many characters are in an average sentence? ›

100 characters is about 1-2 sentences.

A sentence typically has 15–20 words.

Why are shorter sentences better? ›

Shorter sentences are also better for conveying complex information; they break the information up into smaller, easier-to-process units. Sentences loaded with dependent clauses and exceptions confuse the audience by losing the main point in a forest of words.

How can you control the length of sentences? ›

You can also control long sentences by repeating or reiterating key words, using balanced opposites, and employing correlative conjunctions: e.g. not only/but also, neither/nor, either/or.

How many words must an average sentence contain? ›

A good average sentence length

There's no perfect length, however, a well-written sentence should have 15-20 words on average.

What is the best average sentence length for business writing? ›

Most business communication experts recommend writing with an average sentence length of between 20 to 25 words. Sentences over 40 to 50 words long should be re-considered to decide whether they should be re-written.

What is the power of sentence length? ›

Because the length of your sentences can affect how the reader reads—how fast or slow, and how they feel about what they're reading. It affects the pacing of your story. It relays the feeling of the scene.

How does the sentence length effect tone? ›

Sentence length dictates the overall rhythm of your writing, which affects the way your audience perceives your tone.

What is the effect of short sentence length? ›

Think of the importance of sentence structure – short, simple sentences or truncated sentences can create tension, haste or urgency, whereas longer compound or complex sentences are slower, and often feature in formal texts.

How does the sentence length influence the tone and rhythm? ›

Changing up the number of words in a sentence affects the way a piece is read. It creates cadence and rhythm. Sentence fluency is all about how the writing sounds. Determining the number of words for each sentence provides the undercurrent for the tone and message.

What means average usage? ›

What is Average Daily Usage? The Average Daily Usage represents the amount of an item that is used on an average day.

What is the usage on average? ›

You say on average or on an average to indicate that a number is the average of several numbers. American shares rose, on average, by 38%.

Why do we use the word mean for average? ›

They mean the same thing, but in the context of math and statistics, it's better to use the word mean to distinguish from other things that might be casually referred to as “average” values in a general sense (meaning values that are the most representative or common within the set).

What are the 4 sentence lengths? ›

There are four types of sentences: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.

What is considered a too long sentence? ›

When is a sentence too long? It is difficult to come up with a magic number or formula for determining when a sentence is too long. A 12-word sentence that minces words can be too long, while a crystal clear, beautifully-composed 22-word sentence is sometimes just perfect. In general, though, never go beyond 30 words.

What are the types and lengths of sentences? ›

Including Sentences with Differing Structures
Sentence TypeNumber and Type of Clauses
Compound sentenceTwo independent clauses
Complex sentenceOne independent clause and one or more dependent clauses
Compound-complex sentenceAt least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause
1 more row

What is the average length of a paragraph? ›

The average paragraph is about 200 words, but there isn't a hard and fast rule about how long a paragraph should be. Read on for writing tips and techniques about varying paragraph lengths to keep your readers engaged.

What is the average number of sentences in a paragraph? ›

Writers today, however, tend not to go on the way classical authors did. In academic writing, most paragraphs include at least three sentences, though rarely more than ten.

How long is the average sentence in a novel? ›

They cite writing guru Ann Wylie, who quotes research findings as follows: Average sentence length 14 words – readers understand 90%. Average sentence length 43 words – readers understand less than 10%. J.K. Rowling's average in the Harry Potter books is 12 words.

Why do short sentences create tension? ›

Short sentences

Their minds try to gather numerous details about the environment or situation all at once in an effort to ensure their own safety. This sequence of rapid thoughts highlights the immediate danger and time constraints of the situation, creating a sense of tension or urgency.

What is an example of a short sentence? ›

Joe waited for the train. The train was late. Mary and Samantha took the bus.

How do you make a sentence longer and better? ›

How to make your sentences longer (without adding fluff)
  1. Connect ideas with conjunctions. If you want to make your sentences longer, conjunctions are your best friends. ...
  2. Use transitional phrases. ...
  3. Give examples. ...
  4. Be descriptive. ...
  5. Replace contractions. ...
  6. Expand sentences with a paraphrasing tool.
Aug 12, 2021

What makes a sentence hard to read? ›

Overloading the subject with too many words

Sentences that have a lengthy subject (nominal group or noun phrase) are difficult to read.

What rule regulates the length of paragraphs? ›

Like all the other writing, academic writing has no absolute rule for the length of a paragraph. In such writing, a paragraph should begin with a topic sentence, then comes the supporting sentence.

What is the average word length in writing? ›

The average word in the English language is 4.7 characters.

Why is it important to vary sentence structure in writing? ›

Too many sentences with the same structure and length can grow monotonous for readers. Varying sentence style and structure can also reduce repetition and add emphasis. Long sentences work well for incorporating a lot of information, and short sentences can often maximize crucial points.

What is the average sentence length when attempting to keep sentences short? ›

(2) Keep sentences short. The average length of a sentence should be about 15 words. (3) Write paragraphs that, with few exceptions, are no more than 10 lines.

Do long sentences create tension? ›

Long sentences

Long and short sentences are often combined in a paragraph to build tension.

Is long sentence length bad? ›

A common writing advice is to keep your sentences short and simple. The argument goes that writing is better when it is concise, because you're more efficiently communicating your ideas. Long sentences take more energy for the reader to process, and you shouldn't require that of the reader if it's not necessary.

Is a good average sentence length is 25 to 30 words? ›

A good average sentence length is 25 to 30 words. A nominalization is a group of related words used to convey information. In the sentence, "The case law requires the plaintiff to prove duty, breach of duty, proximate cause, and damages." the use of and means that all the listed items are required.

How many words are in 5 sentences on average? ›

With an average of 15-20 words per sentence and 5-8 sentences in a paragraph, this comes to approximately 75 to 160 words.

What is considered a long sentence? ›

Studies also show that sentences of 11 words are considered easy to read, while those of 21 words are fairly difficult. At 25 words, sentences become difficult, and 29 words or longer, very difficult.

Is 32 words too long for a sentence? ›

Most sentences should contain no more than 30 or 40 words. “Medium-sized” means minuscule by Proust's standards. Most sentences should contain no more than 30 or 40 words. Your readers just don't have a very long attention span, and their feet tire easily.

Is 75 words too long for a sentence? ›

75 words is about 3-5 sentences.

A sentence typically has 15–20 words.

How many words on average is 140 characters? ›

Answer: 140 characters is between 20 words and 35 words with spaces included in the character count. If spaces are not included in the character count, then 140 characters is between 23 words and 47 words.

How many characters is 500 words on average? ›

Just to keep in mind, the average one spaced page usually contains about 3000 characters or 500 words.

How long does it take to write a 80,000 word novel? ›

Here's a guideline for how long it takes to write a book based on wordcount: 30,000 – 50,000 words: 500 words/day = 60 – 100 days. 50,000 – 80,000 words: 500 words/day = 100 – 160 days. 80,000 – 100,000 words: 500 words/day = 160 – 200 days.

How long does it take to read an 80,000 word novel? ›

The average reader will read 80,000 words in 4.4 hours when reading at a speed of 300 words per minute (wpm). Typical documents that are 80,000 words or more include full-length novels. You may read faster or slower than this depending on your average reading speed.

Which novel has the longest sentence? ›

The Guinness Book of Records lists the longest proper sentence as one from William Faulkner's novel 'Absalom, Absalom!' (1,287 words). Some ancient languages, such as Sanskrit and Greek, did not have any punctuation.

How many words does the average reader know? ›

Most adult native test-takers have a vocabulary range of about 20,000-35,000 words. Adult native test-takers learn almost 1 new word a day until middle age. Vocabulary growth stops at middle age.

How long does it take to say 1,000 words on average? ›

How long does it take to speak 1,000 words? Assuming an average speaking speed of 125 to 150 words per minute, it would take approximately 6:30 to 8 minutes to speak 1,000 words.


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