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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:

 Avoid

 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