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    Avoid Redundancy in Your Writing

    Posted by Phil Jamieson on Feb 9, 2010 5:00:00 AM

    Let's start with a quote about writing: 

    "Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."
    - William Strunk, Jr., Elements of Style

    Pleonasm is the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense. Redundancies are found everywhere. Advertisers are particularly guilty of this when promoting their offers: "an added bonus" or "a free gift."

    In your writing it is always a good practice to review the completed document with an eye toward avoiding saying the same thing twice. The use of redundant phrases in your writing is a habit worth breaking.

    Here is a short list of some to look out for:


     Change to

     close proximity proximity 
     completely unanimous unanimous
     consensus of opinion consensus
     each and every each or every 
     end result result 
     exactly the same the same
     he/she is a person who he/she 
     basic essentials essentials
     in spite of the fact that although 
     job functions job or functions 
     new innovation innovation 
     one and the same the same 
     personal opinion opinion 
     refer back refer 
     summarize briefly summarize
     surrounding circumstances circumstances 
     past history history 
     very unique unique 
     and also and or also 

    Note: Some redundancies contained in phrases have been legitimized over time and should be left alone: safe haven, hot water heater, new beginning, tuna fish, never before, joined together, and false pretenses.

    Sources:  Common Errors in English by Paul Brians; Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary; the Internet

    Tags: business writing, writing