I saw this recently in a report published by UKERC on local authorities’ involvement in clean energy projects. It’s classic academic sentence, by which I mean back-to-front.

“Existing work on ‘non-traditional business models’ (Ofgem 2015a) and the Future Insights programme, which has begun work on the system impacts of local energy (Ofgem 2017), as well as lessons from the Low Carbon Networks Fund (see Frame, Bell and McArthur 2016), are valuable starting points.”

In a sentence that is already too long (48 words), the main verb “are” slouches in at word 45.  This forces readers  to keep lots of information spinning in their ‘working memory’ until they finally find out what’s going on. Which makes it tough going.

These listy sentences are always better the other way around:

“Valuable starting points include existing work on ‘non-traditional business models’ (Ofgem 2015a) and the Future Insights programme, which has begun work on the system impacts of local energy (Ofgem 2017), and lessons from the Low Carbon Networks Fund (see Frame, Bell and McArthur 2016).”

Still not pretty, but a lot easier to read.

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