The Art of Combining Sentences When Editing

By My Web Writers

Good content writers know that text reads more easily when it contains a variety of sentence lengths.  Let’s say you are searching for how to roast tomatoes.  Here’s what you might find:

Choose ripe tomatoes. Wash tomatoes. Cut each one in half. Toss tomatoes with olive oil, oregano, marjoram, and fennel. Set oven to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet. Add several garlic cloves. Roast for 90 minutes.

 The directions do tell you how to roast tomatoes, but the text doesn’t flow smoothly.  It’s full of short, choppy sentences.  Let’s try editing the directions by combining some of the sentences.

Edit for Sentence Fluency

Choose ripe tomatoes. Wash each tomato and cut it in half; then toss with olive oil, oregano, marjoram, and fennel. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet, adding several garlic cloves. Roast for 90 minutes at 350 degrees.

In this example, we reduced the number of sentences from eight to four. More importantly, the text flows better.

How can you combine sentences when editing?

 Conjunctions Join

Conjunctions – and, but, or, so, yet – were made for jobs like this. If you’re editing text with many short sentences, your first task will probably involve looking for ways to combine sentences with a few strategically-placed conjunctions.

Instead of Hydrogenated oils are unhealthy. Avoid them whenever possible, how about Hydrogenated oils are unhealthy, and you should avoid them whenever possible.

 Don’t Forget the Semicolon

As useful as conjunctions are in combining sentences, they’re not the only tool in your editing handbag.  Don’t become a one-trick pony by only using and to combine sentences.  How about pulling out an occasional semicolon?

Many writers fear the semicolon. They’re not exactly sure when to use one. Plunge in and give this underused punctuation mark a little love. You can use a semicolon to combine two sentences where the second sentence gives a rationale or reason for the first.

For instance, let’s consider I enjoy cooking with tomatoes. Their juicy red color and texture appeal to my inner chef.

 How about re-writing that, using a semicolon to combine the sentences:  I enjoy cooking with tomatoes; their juicy red color and texture appeal to my inner chef.  We haven’t eliminated any words here, but there’s no doubt that the second version reads more smoothly and makes sense: why do I enjoy cooking with tomatoes? Why, their color and texture appeal to my inner chef, of course!

Commas Insert Information

Look for short sentences that give information. This information can often be added to another sentence by using commas.

For instance, Roma tomatoes are high in potassium and Vitamin A. They are perfect for making tomato sauce.

Why not edit those two sentences into one, using commas: Roma tomatoes, high in potassium and Vitamin A, are perfect for making into tomato sauce. All the information of the first version is maintained, and the second version reads more smoothly.

It’s not a secret that writing effective web content takes a bit of work. We love watching the below writer/ instructor combine sentences.  If you’re a serious writer, you will, too.

If you’d prefer someone else to do it for you, professional web writing services like My Web Writers can do the job in a way that will bring more traffic to your site.

~Susan

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2 Comments

Filed under Content, Revising & Proofreading, Technical Writing

2 responses to “The Art of Combining Sentences When Editing

  1. Pingback: Marketing Finesse; Edit for Content Phrasing | My Web Writers - Website Content & Editing Ideas

  2. Pingback: Five Authors Share How They Use Social Media | My Web Writers - Website Content & Editing Ideas

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