Fact: Long sentences can be difficult to read.
Fact: Long sentences can be difficult to translate.

One of the ways to help improve readability of your content in any language is to keep your sentences as short as possible. Let’s look at a real-life example:

Rather than spending millions of dollars and months of work purchasing and deploying a separate tool, the customer leveraged the power of the Acme platform for rapid, cost-effective results.

This is a 30-word sentence. It is difficult to read and difficult to translate. To simplify, we can split the thought into two sentences:

The customer leveraged the power of the Acme platform for rapid, cost-effective results. They saved the millions of dollars and months of work needed to purchase and deploy a separate tool.

Long sentences also increase the number of iterations needed to translate them. As a rule, translators do their best to figure out the intentions of the author. The longer the sentence, the more difficult it can be to preserve the intended meaning. This causes repeat review cycles between the translator and the reviewer. Iterating is a costly process that we all want to avoid.

As a rule of thumb, try to keep your sentences to no more than 24 words in length. This can be difficult if you are writing about a product that has a long name. But, if you aim for 24 words, your longer sentences will be the exception rather than the rule. Your customers, translators, in-country reviewers, and finance people will thank you.

Val Swisher
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