This paper starts with a discussion of popular crack models and describes their merits and demerits from a user’s point of view. Both smeared and discrete crack models are included. Subsequently, it is demonstrated that the formation of cracks is often accompanied by snaps and jumps in the load-displacement response which complicate the analysis. The paper provides a solution by simplifying nonlinear crack models into sequentially linear saw-tooth models, either saw-tooth tension-softening for unreinforced material or saw-tooth tension-stiffening for reinforced material. The approach captures the snaps automatically and may help engineers to find practical solutions in case of complex structural cracking.