Bench & Bar Kentucky, Vol. 68, No. 4, p. 36, July 2004

1 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2006

See all articles by Richard A. Bales

Richard A. Bales

Ohio Northern University - Pettit College of Law


"Long is not wrong," says Terri LeClercq, but short and simple is easier to understand and retain. Writing short and (mostly) simple sentences helps break complex ideas into smaller pieces that are more easily understood. Legal concepts can be difficult enough without the added complexity of stultifying prose.

This essay provides five tips for creating persuasive, memorable sentences.

First, keep it short ("I have a dream."). Length often comes from qualifiers that hide or dilute the primary message. Second, increase writing density. Third, use semicolons, and colons with numbered lists, to signify close relationships between or among ideas. Fourth, keep introductory clauses short. Fifth, avoid long clauses (or strings of clauses) separating the subject from the verb.

Keywords: Legal writing, sentence, prose, persuasion, clause

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Bales, Richard A., Sentences. Bench & Bar Kentucky, Vol. 68, No. 4, p. 36, July 2004. Available at SSRN:

Richard A. Bales (Contact Author)

Ohio Northern University - Pettit College of Law ( email )

525 South Main Street
Ada, OH 45810
United States
419-772-2205 (Phone)


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