I can’t help myself! Another left-branching disaster

Left-branching sentences resemble this graphic these sentences start midway in the sentence and ramble on so that you have no idea why you are reading all this material!
Left-branching sentences resemble this graphic. Left-branching sentences start midway in the sentence and branch to the left as they ramble on. You have no idea why you are reading all this material until you get to the point in the middle of the sentence!

I was hoping that my last post would be my last post about left-branching, but my local newspaper made me do this.

Here is their latest violation (I’ve changed the name of the city):

Due to high demand for the [body] cameras as more police departments across the country are using them in the wake of several high profile police incidents, there was a delay in Sandstone police getting their order.

The bolded part of the sentence—26 words—branches to the left from the subject and verb “there was a delay” (10 words). This means that for 26 words, we have no idea why we are reading this sentence. Ah, there it is: Sandstone police received their [camera] order late.

The Text Doctor can’t resist rewriting this sentence to fix the left-branching confusion above:

Sandstone police finally received their body cameras after a delay due to high demand as more police departments across the country are using them in the wake of several high-profile police incidents. [32 words]

I think we can posit two clear rules here:

  • Get to the point of the sentence right up front.
  • Don’t wander around for the first two thirds of your sentence.

Actually, they are the same rule: Bottom line on top (BLOT)!

Learn more about resisting left-branching sentences in Dr. Frick’s wildly popular technical writing webinars.

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