Writing Concisely (Part 3)by Ashley Smith
How many times have you heard or seen an advertisement saying, “And as an added bonus you’ll receive . . .”?
Notice anything strange about this phrase? Aren’t bonuses already an addition to something? Using the word “added” with “bonus” creates a redundancy. Part 3 of our Writing Concisely series addresses how to cut redundancies from your writing to create clarity and conciseness.
Most of us don’t notice redundancies when they’re spoken (which is often and by almost everyone, regardless of profession or level of education). We are also accustomed to seeing them in ads, where they are used to emphasize a point. But one place you should not ignore redundancies is in your (non-ad) business writing.
Clear and succinct business writing makes its point without having to emphasize it. Redundancies clutter your content, adding to your word count unnecessarily and stealing more of your readers’ time.
Here are some of the most common redundancies you should avoid:
- Absolutely + essential/necessary. Something that is essential or necessary is fundamental and therefore is already an absolute.
- Advance + warning/preview/reservations/planning. A warning tells you something in advance; a preview is an advanced showing of something; anytime you reserve something you do it in advance; planning means you are formulating a course of action in advance.
- Ask + a question. You wouldn’t ask a sentence, would you?
- Assemble + together. The verb to assemble means to bring together.
- Basic + fundamentals/necessities/essentials. You cannot get much more basic than fundamentals, necessities, or essentials.
- Best + ever. When someone or something is the best it means that he/she/it is the best ever, at all times.
- Brief + moment/summary. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a moment is, “a brief interval of time”; and a summary is, “presented in condensed form.” In other words, it’s brief.
- Careful + scrutiny. When you examine something carefully, you scrutinize it.
- Collaborate/cooperate + together. You cannot collaborate or cooperate with someone without working together. Additionally, you must join with another person for collaboration to exist, so you do not need to say, “a joint collaboration.”
- Depreciate + in value. If something depreciates, it lessens in value.
- Desirable + benefits. When are benefits not desirable?
- During + the course of. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, during means, “throughout the course of.”
- End + result. You would never say “beginning results,” because a result is an outcome.
- Equal + to one another. If one thing were not equal to another, it wouldn’t be equal to anything.
- Exact + same. Two things can be “almost the same. However, when two things are “the same” it is understood that one is an exact replica of the other.
Unsure of which redundant word to delete? Often it’s the adjective (as in advance warning) or adverb (as in absolutely essential) that’s unnecessary. However, if you’re still in doubt, have someone who knows the rules check your writing.
If you are interested in discovering more redundancies, click here for an expanded list—200 Common Redundancies.
Tune in next week for the final part of our Writing Concisely series, where we discuss wordy phrases and modifiers.
Writing Concisely (Part 2): Fewer Nouns and a Lot More Action
Writing Concisely (Part 3): Avoid Redundancies in Your Writing
Writing Concisely (Part 4): Eliminate Wordy Phrases and Modifiers