Stress position

A reader will unconsciously focus at the end of the sentence to identify what is important. This information can be referred to as the stress position of a sentence. With this expectation in mind, you can emphasize what is important about your presented idea by placing that information at the end of the sentence.


1: Introduction of the new assembly line increased manufacturing.
2: Manufacturing increased after the introduction of the new assembly line.

In sentence (1) above, ‘increased manufacturing’ is in the stress position. A reader could assume that the authors looked at the various effects of the introduction of the new assembly line. The key effect that was observed was an increase in the manufacturing.

In sentence (2), however, ‘introduction of the new assembly line’ is in the stress position. In this case, a reader could assume that the authors looked at various ways to increase manufacturing. Of these, it was introduction of the new assembly line that had the greatest effect.
Specifying the key information at the end of a sentence will change the reader’s interpretation of that sentence.

In addition to emphasizing what is important, the stress position also provides a clue as to what the next sentence will be about. By providing these clues, authors can help manage reader expectations and ensure that the presented ideas are communicated more effectively. In the following examples the stress positions are in bold and help introduce the subject of the next sentence.


To increase the number of student applicants, the university recently implemented a new program. An important part of this program is to first give seminars at top-ranking high schools in the region. Increasing the number of local students is the initial step for the program’s success.

The patient went to the hospital to see a gastroenterologist. The doctor then performed a series of diagnostic tests. The results showed the patient suffered from a bacterial infection. Antibiotics were prescribed to treat the infection before the patient developed an ulcer.