Saturday, December 15, 2007

Writing for Style: Eliminating Redundancies

This entry is brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

Don't say the same thing twice and don't take one more word to say what you mean than is needed. This will give your writing power and momentum.

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. in Elements of Style

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, William Strunk Jr., E.B. White, Roger Angell

A phrase that repeats itself—like "true fact," "twelve noon," "I saw it with my own eyes"—is sometimes called a pleonasm. Watch out for pleonasms, they are bad habits just waiting to take control of your writing.

Many uneducated citizens who have never attended school continue to vote for better schools.

biography of her life = biography
circle around = circle
consensus of opinion = consensus
cooperate together = cooperate
each and every = each
end result = result
exactly the same = the same
free gift = gift
in spite of the fact that = although
in the event that = if
one and the same = the same
personal opinion = opinion
refer back = refer
revert back = revert
surrounded on all sides = surrounded
we are in receipt of = we have received

Fewer words is almost always better.

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