Help Students Vary Sentence Length with Writing Reviser Google Doc Add-on


One of the easiest ways to lose a reader is to write a series of sentences with the exact same structure: “See Spot run. Watch him jump. Pet his head.” Compare that juvenile effect to one in which the student purposefully varies her sentence lengths:

“Sitting in an expensive restaurant, I looked with horror at the fish the waiter placed before me. It moved.”

Teaching writing style has been a notoriously difficult task. The free Writing Reviser Google Doc Add-on has helped solve that problem. Our sentence-length bar chart is a bit like musical notation for beginning writers: It provides students with visual evidence—uncomplicated by content—on the basic rhythmic flow of their essay. And by rolling the cursor over an individual bar, the student can see the sentence to which it corresponds.

Armed with that evidence, students can more effectively revise their papers mindful of two crucial ideas that experienced writers ask automatically:

  1. Have I fallen into a boring rhythm?
  2. How can I best break that boredom by matching variations in rhythm to variations in content?

The difference is akin to that between the unforgettably pleasurable and energizing imbalance of a Afro-Cuban dance tune and the stultifying monotony of those generic jingles that have you reaching for the mute button.

The sentence-length bar chart is just one of the many ways Writing Reviser helps students begin to think like experienced writers.

Add Writing Reviser to your Google Docs today for free. Learn more about Writing Reviser—and our complete suite of writing tools from Curriculum Pathways—at

And check out these other informative blog posts about Writing Reviser! Also check out our tool-based lesson in which Jack London shows you how to vary sentence length.

All Writing Navigator tools are also available on the Curriculum Pathways website and as a free iPad app!



About Author

Tim McBride

Supervisor, Educational Multimedia Writing

Tim McBride has degrees from Rochester Institute of Technology and NC State University, where he taught English for several years. His first book of poetry, The Manageable Cold, was published recently by TriQuarterly Press at Northwestern University. He works as a writer and an editor on Curriculum Pathways. He lives in Cary, NC, with an American pit bull terrier named Charlie McCarthy and a Catahoula hog dog named Junk.

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