Many academic writers fall into the trap of assuming readers can process all their information as fast as they can. Did you know that research has shown that the human brain can only process between seven and nine new pieces of information at any time? This is cognitive load.

This feeds into our understanding of sentence structure and length. It is best therefore to write using sentences that are shorter rather than longer: sentences 10 words in length tend to be recalled by readers 98% of the time, while those that are 20 words in length are recalled 85% of the time. The drop-off after that is significant: sentences 30 words in length are recalled 70% of the time, while those 50 words in length have just 58% recall.


Post by Gareth Dyke, Editor-in-Chief of Biosis: Biological Systems (Published by EAPG), and Historical Biology (Published by Taylor and Francis).