Producing Non-Fiction

Varying Sentences and Punctuation

Varying Sentences and Punctuation

Sentence Structures

Short sentences can be effective. They can have an impact on the reader. You might remember every word. Short sentences are often punchy.

CaptureHowever, when writing a text, long sentences can also have a positive impact on the reader. Having more words to play with, they can include a lot more information, as well as colourful language such as alliteration. When you write long sentences, you tend to have commas in them to break up the clauses and allow the reader a chance to pause.

Both these paragraphs are not as effective as they could be. The first uses simple sentences. The second use more complex ones. What makes writing easier and more interesting to read is using a variety of sentence types. The contrast of using longer sentences with shorter ones can make the use of short sentences stand out more and their message more punchy. If only short sentences were used, the writing would seem quite disjointed and lack the flow which longer sentences provide. Therefore, sentence variation is important.


Using full stops, capital letters and commas in your writing must be done correctly as examiners will be looking at this. Punctuation helps the reader break up the paragraphs into sentences and the sentences into clauses. However, this is not all it can do.

You should use a wide range of punctuation in your writing, such as semi-colons, question marks and exclamation marks. Some of these can add an extra dimension to a sentence. For example,

Do not walk on the grass. Do not walk on the grass!


He was never seen again. He was never seen again…

(leaves the reader pondering)

You like this film. You like this film?

(statement become questioning

– usually seen in speech)

Unusual punctuation should be used sparingly. For example, if you use too many exclamation marks, this will ruin their impact and annoy the reader (and never write more than one at a time – ! is fine but !!! is not). Exclamation marks are similar to loud speech or shouting. You would not want to listen to someone shout an entire speech.

Sneaky Fact – the semi-colon

Learning how to use one of these is a good idea. Examiners love seeing students use semi-colons correctly in their writing as it is a sophisticated type of punctuation.