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Use. More. Periods.

October 31, 2013

When columnist James J. Kilpatrick was a young newspaper reporter, he wrote a lot of deadly, long sentences. Finally, in frustration, the city editor gave Kilpatrick a piece of paper covered with dots.

“These interesting objects, which apparently you have never encountered before, are known as periods,” the editor said. “You would do well to use them.”

In fact, we’d all do well to use more periods. Reader comprehension drops as sentence length increases, according to classic research by the American Press Institute.

Want more techniques for writing copy that people read? Join Ann Wylie for “Writing That Sells — Products, Services and Ideas,” a one-day PRSA professional development seminar in New York City on Dec. 2.


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Ann Wylie Ann Wylie works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. To learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services, contact her at
Email: ann at

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