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Sentence length

There are no rules about sentence length in scientific writing. Most texts are a combination of short and long sentences. The guiding principle is that all sentences should be easy to read and understand.

When should I use short sentences?

Short, simple sentences are often a good choice. They can be particularly useful for introducing the topic of a paragraph, thereby focussing the reader. This is illustrated in example (1) (Soto-Valero, Durieux and Baudry, 2021), where short sentences (in bold) are then expanded upon with longer, more complex sentences.


Software is bloated. From single Unix commands [13] to web browsers [22], most applications embed a part of code that is unnecessary to their correct operation. Several debloating tools have emerged in recent years [14, 21, 22, 24, 26, 29] to address the security and maintenance issues posed by excessive code at various granularity levels. However, these works do not analyze the evolution of bloat over time. Understanding software bloat in the perspective of software evolution [12, 30, 32] is crucial to promote debloating tools towards software developers. In particular, developers, when proposed to adapt a debloating tool, wonder if a piece of bloated code might be needed in coming releases, or what is the actual issue with bloat.

In example (1) the very first sentence provides a powerful focus for the reader.

Short sentences can also be useful for breaking down an explanation into a series of individual steps, as in example (2), which has three rather short sentences:


Figure 2 is a visualization of a breadth-first search in a graph containing vertices and edges. Vertices are represented as circles and edges as the lines between the circles. Two vertices that are connected by a line are considered neighbours.

When should I use longer sentences?

Sometimes, a longer sentence will be a good choice, as longer sentences enable a writer to combine ideas and show the relationship between them. This is further explored in Section 2.


Soto-Valero, C., Durieux, T. and Baudry, B. (2021) A Longitudinal Analysis of Bloated Java Dependencies, ESEC/FSE’21, August 23–27, 2021, Athens, Greece, Virtual Event.

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