The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.
Published Apr 25, 2016

How to use the sticky sentence report

A sticky sentence is one that is full of glue words.

Glue words are the empty space that readers need to get through before they can get to your ideas. Generally, your sentences should contain less than 45% glue words. If they contain more, they should probably be re-written to increase clarity.

What are glue words in sticky sentences?

Let’s look at some examples.

  • ORIGINAL: Dave walked over into the back yard of the school in order to see if there was a new bicycle that he could use in his class. Glue index: 60.7% - Sentence length 27 words

  • REDRAFT: Dave checked the school’s back yard for a new bicycle to use in class. Glue index: 42.8% - Sentence length 14 words

The second sentence is much easier to read. Unnecessary information has been discarded, and the wording is more concise. The point of the sentence comes across clearly.

  • ORIGINAL: I was able to use the information that I have in my files and spoke to a number of people about the problem and managed to resolve it. Glue index: 57% - Sentence length 28 words
  • REDRAFT: I resolved the problem using my contacts and the available information. Glue index: 36% - Sentence length 11 words

Like many of the tips in this guide, you need to use your own judgement as the author. Sometimes a sentence will be sticky and it’s the only way that it works. That’s fine. But statistics show that published writing has a low percentage of glue words, so always go back and reassess your sticky sentences.

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The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.

The most successful people in the world have coaches. Whatever your level of writing, ProWritingAid will help you achieve new heights. Exceptional writing depends on much more than just correct grammar. You need an editing tool that also highlights style issues and compares your writing to the best writers in your genre. ProWritingAid helps you find the best way to express your ideas.

A quick exploration of this tool impressed me. My writing needs it. Sharon Sterling, Author

By radiantsharon on 26 April 2016, 05:32 PM

ghost writing quickly can enhance bad habits over time, so a tool like this is great to keep yourself in check sometimes, make sure you're not using glue words just to get the word count or otherwise slacking. Although I must say I don't want to run some of my comedic, cliche-riddled work through that thing or I might break it!

By redshadow47 on 24 May 2016, 10:47 AM

Tips on writing support writing very much, especially for those learning and practising writing.

By locdang54 on 08 August 2016, 08:10 AM

The sticky sentence check is great but currently the MS Word ad-on does not highlight the glue words that are not in sticky sentences. It would be nice if be nice if you provided an option to highlight the words in the future, Paul Nieto, Blogger

By pauln08 on 04 November 2016, 04:06 AM


By Akikorye on 13 February 2017, 03:16 AM

I‘ve never realized the significance of glue words to make writing brief and concise. Thanks for it.

By 1723819956 on 19 December 2016, 08:23 AM

In my experience, few sticky sentences are even marked. And the report continues to suggest a large number, while showing them all crossed out in the detail. I like the idea, but I'm not getting functionality, in the online version.

By on 12 January 2017, 06:48 PM

My favorite report, but I run the Writing Style check first, which weeds out most glue words. Still, I continue editing until I'm under 38 percent glue words. Amazing how many words you can cut and yet be understood. That said, I would love glue words highlighted. There are times when writing a short piece where I have no Writing Style errors, no sticky sentences and still cannot crack the 40 percent barrier. It would be nice to see all glue words highlighted as an aid.

By llLeoll on 18 March 2017, 09:12 PM

Amazing tool!! I'm just starting as a writer and I believe this tool will be my faithful inseparable companion :)

By anrueda on 23 March 2017, 12:33 AM

I was surprised yet annoyed at myself when I read how many "sticky" sentences my one submission contained. That means more work and I'm pretty lazy. Now I am thinking of other novels that probably are not finished because I keep writing when I should stop! This reminds me of the writer played by Michael Douglas in the excellent film "Wonder Boys". After a first best-seller, he is unable to complete his second novel, not out of writer's block, but the inability to stop. He carries around a huge manuscript and won't let anyone read it, while he is hounded by his agent, his students and friends. Hopefully, it won't take a car accident and the loss of my manuscript to the four winds to trim down what I have already written.

By samwisetalbot on 25 March 2017, 04:02 PM

I hope 'asked' and' said' aren't included as sticky because they're the dialogue tags editors require. Catch 22 anyone?

By martyknox on 22 February 2018, 08:17 PM

Honestly, I do think that the sticky sentence finder is good. But the 40 glue word seems a bit too much. 45 or 48 would be better.

By webbrd21 on 15 October 2018, 02:24 PM

Why is the target 40%? Is this something there's data on or a number that somebody felt was right?

By LondonC on 13 January 2019, 08:26 PM

You guys are absolute lifesavers! So much useful advice. Thank you.

By A trashy writer on 12 February 2019, 12:02 AM

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By brobinson.studetn on 21 March 2019, 01:01 PM