How to write good: Avoid redundant phrases

Redundancy in your writing slows the reader down.

Just like you don’t want to cash in all your 50-cent words when you’re writing, you also don’t want to overwrite. That means keeping your prose clean and efficient.

One way to do that is to be on the lookout for redundant, or unnecessary, phrasing.

Such as “pre-register” or “advance registration.” When else are you going to register?

Spot the redundancy in this sentence:

The lottery prize was claimed earlier this week.

Of course, “earlier this week” is unnecessary. If you saying that something already happened this week, obviously it was “earlier.”

It also works the other way around:

The tornado is expected to hit Kansas later this week.

By the context of the sentence, we know we’re talking about something we are expecting to happen, so “later” is unnecessary.

(Even better is to be specific: The tornado is expected to hit Kansas on Tuesday.)

When composing, treat the first version as a draft. Go back through your writing and look for these hidden redundancies.

Find them and cut them out and you’ll have much tighter writing that’s easier to read.

Author: Media Octopus

I run a Victoria, B.C.-based consulting firm providing website content management, workflow solutions, graphic design, writing and editing, and media expertise.

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