Blog How to Use ProWritingAid How to Use the Sentence Length Report

How to Use the Sentence Length Report

Varied sentence length is an important feature of good writing.

The late Gary Provost illustrated it best:

The importance of Varied Sentence Lengths

To maintain your readers’ interest, use a variety of sentence lengths: some short and punchy, others long and flowing.

In this article, learn more about using ProWritingAid's Sentence Length report.

  1. Using ProWritingAid's Sentence Length Report
  2. What the Scores Mean

Using ProWritingAid's Sentence Length Report

This is the screen you see when you run the sentence length report:


The report takes you through the variety in sentence lengths in your piece, the average sentence length, and how many long sentences you have. It also provides you with a graph depicting a visual representation of the length of your sentences.

What the Scores Mean

The sentence length report gives you three scores:

1. Sentence Variety Score

The sentence variety is calculated using a concept called standard deviation. This is a mathematical measure of variety from the average. The higher the standard deviation, the more your sentence lengths vary within the document.

2. Average Sentence Length

The average sentence length for most published writers is between 11 and 18 words. If your average is above 18, then your writing might be too verbose or complicated. If your average is below 11, your writing will likely feel choppy. Check your score and then rework your text if you need to.


3. Individual Sentence Lengths

You can also see each sentence length throughout your document.

The graph helps you easily scan to find areas in your work that need more variety.

Use ProWritingAid’s Sentence Length Check to find your stats or create a graph of your sentences.

Take your writing to the next level:

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Hayley Milliman

Hayley Milliman

Content Lead

Hayley is the Head of Learning at ProWritingAid. Prior to joining this team, Hayley spent several years as an elementary school teacher and curriculum developer in Memphis, TN. When Hayley isn't hunched over her keyboard, you can find her figure skating at the ice rink or hiking with her dog.

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Fisrt! I did it!
Sure would be nice to know how to find those sentences that are too long or to short. What do I do, count the words myself?
You just click on the bar in the graph for the sentence you want to see and it takes you right to it.
You have to do that
A comment in a comment
In a comment
in another comment This is kind of funny
too long or to (sic) short was that a test?
I have pro writing aid downloaded on my laptop but do not get the graph comparing sentence lengths. How do I make that happen?
What does your system consider a sentence? He highlights several ' sentences' as being too long, while they are actually a dialogue for instance with several full stops in them. In other words, several sentences counted as one.
As it is normally defined, the sentence is not an appropriate unit of analysis in making editorial decisions on how best to minimize computational processing load in a text while keeping the reader interested and involved in the content of the text. It would be useful if users could specify their definition of a sentence and receive reports that used their definition.
Another adventure for a novice. I'm writing all this down. DA Short
Very useful comments on my note, I am delighted. Thanks for the feedback.
You are so welcome! That's what we love to hear! :)
Surely the target sentence length will vary depending on the type of writing. For example, in scenes where there is a high proportion of dialogue, my sentence lengths drop well below the target of 11 words. This is obvious since a sentence could easily be 'Yes,' or 'No, thanks," in dialogue. Action scenes will generally have much shorter sentences than descriptive scenes.
Great point! Hopefully this is a feature we'll be able to improve on as we continue to work on this feature! :)
I'm running into the same thing. I prefer dialog to build the story, with short paragraphs of narrative where it helps. Every chapter I run through Pro Writing has short sentences as my problem. For the remainder, my scores are good. Also, "unusual dialog tags." If I write, "I'll get that," Josh put her suitcase in the overhead," it's unusual. If I change it to "I'll get that," Josh said. He put her suitcase in the overhead, I get a gold star. Naaw. These are small issues compared with the great corrections I get with Pro Writing Aid. Love the program! I don't know how you make software sniff out language. Great job. I'll ignore the sentence length stuff in dialog.
We are so glad that you love the tool! Seems like you really know how to use it! And as always, we will continue to work on new and innovative ways to "sniff out language" - we promise! Thanks again for adding your comment. :)
Do this program give you suggestions to correct the lengthy sentence
The sentence length report does not provide suggested corrections, but it can be used with the sticky sentences report, which highlights "sticky" words that may not be necessary . Let us know if you have any more questions about this!

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