Redundancies do have their place.
- To emphasize something important in display advertising/marketing
- In jargon among legal professionals
- As a comedic device
- In written dialogue
- In storytelling
The key is to know your audience. When writing for business and for academic presentations, writing is effective only when it is clear, succinct, and well organized. It should have very little jargon, and must be specifically crafted and presented to give the clearest call to action to readers and get the most direct and accurate response from readers.
Redundancies in business writing tend to introduce ambiguity that may confuse readers, thereby diminishing your credibility with them. Here are some redundancies to avoid in business writing.
- Repay back (use either repay or pay back)
- Revert back to (revert)
- Sequential order (sequential)
- Unexpected surprise (Really? When is a surprise expected?)
- Various different (These words mean the same thing. Choose one.)
- Whole entire (These words mean the same thing. Choose one.)
- Circle around (Circle implies going around.)
- Armed gunman (If there is a gunman, he is armed with a gun.)
- Honest truth (Truth is honest always.)
- Complete and utter
- Exact duplicate
Use this as a cheat sheet in your arsenal of tools to ensure a clear message. Add your own discoveries of redundancies to avoid. And. Avoid. Them.
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I feel a need to put this out there after some rather outlandish uses I’ve seen that are embarrassing. Here goes.
Words that end in “self” or “selves” are called reflexive pronouns. These words should be used only when the noun or pronoun was referenced previously in your text.
- The president appointed myself to the committee.
This is incorrect. There is no previous reference to identify who “myself” is.
Correct. The president appointed me to the committee.
- Mary pushed herself to finish the test.
This is correct. “Herself” refers to Mary.
- The team members prepared themselves to compete by practicing every day.
This is correct. “Themselves” refers to the team members.
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Part of getting your message across to your audience successfully is designing your communication. Just as in the products that catch our eye, the visual appearance is just as important as the content. It may make or break your effort to communicate your message.
- Use plain language. A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.
–International Plain Language Federation
- Consider your layout. Make sure you have plenty of white space to help separate your content into groups of information. White space also gives the appearance of calmness and simplicity, as opposed to crowded chaos.
- Use a font that is simple and make it a size that is easy for your audience to read. Times Roman, Garamond, Helvetica, and Arial (11 or 12 point) are popular.
- Start with a call to action for your readersand use succinct, useful headings to separate information and help readers navigate the content.
- Use bullets and numbering to help make your information easy to follow.
- Do not be shy, use tables, charts, and photographsto simplify your information and make it appealing.
It’s all about getting your audience to engage in the document and get the information they need from it. It’s also about getting them to respond to your call to action.
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Merriam Webster’s official definition: a string of empty, incoherent, unintelligible, or nonsensical words or comment.
Addendum to definition: A speech given by President Donald J. Trump.
Bet you thought that an expletive was just a profane word! Well, it became better-known as such a few decades ago, during the Watergate scandal. President Richard M. Nixon’s audiotape recordings included a lot of profanity, which had to be deleted before being used in court hearings. That is when the phrase “expletive deleted” entered our vocabulary as a definition of profanity.
There are two types of expletive.
Expletive as Passive Voice
The expletive is a word or phrase that is unnecessary to understanding the meaning of the sentence; it gives the sentence a passive voice. For example,
There is a student waiting in the principal’s office.
This could be restated as—A student is waiting in the principal’s office.
The word there at the beginning of the first sentence is an expletive.
Expletive as Intensifier
An expletive does not modify, it intensifies another part of speech. It indicates passion and emotion. It may be mildly profane. For example,
The cruise was a freaking nightmare.
The pie was di-freaking-licious!
The word freaking is an expletive in both examples.
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