Tips to make your writing more complex

During appointments, students often ask what they can do to make their writing less simple. There are many things which can be done to increase the complexity in your writing, so I thought it may be useful to post about it here. First, let me address a common misconception: making writing complex is different from making it complicated or difficult to read. Complex has a positive meaning (consisting of many different and connected parts) and complex ideas often require techniques in writing in order to effectively express the relationship between points which you are developing. The following is a brief list offering 3 tips on how you can make your writing both complex and clear.

1. Use complex sentences

A complex sentence comprises at least a dependent clause and an independent clause in any order. Through effective use of this sentence structure, the relationship between ideas can be coherently and concisely expressed. Vary the position of the clauses so that the structure is not repeated too often in your paragraphs.

*note* You should aim to vary your sentence structure throughout a piece of work, as this will improve the overall ‘flow’ of your writing.


Punctuation, which is commonly misused,  performs a very useful function. If used effectively, it can help convey your intended meaning clearly to your reader. If misused, it can change the meaning of what you write (as in the example above).

There are rules governing the use of punctuation; we cover these in our Advanced Academic Grammar class.

3. Nominalization

This is a technique used to cut the clutter in your work. Put simply, it’s about packing meaning into fewer words. Consider the following example:

the disease which affects the cardiovascular system could change to the cardiovascular disease

Some writers have a tendency to write too many words when trying to express an idea. The results are: fewer words with which to express further thoughts and complicated sentences. Aim to be succinct when you write.

A more in-depth look at this can be found in Chris Sowton’s book.