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Redundancy Study Guide

What is the difference between focused writing and unfocused 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.
in Elements of Style

Here is a simple way to avoid redundancy:

Avoid saying the same thing twice.

  • Example: Many uneducated citizens who have never attended school continue to vote for better schools.
  • Explanation: In this case, it is not necessary to say that "uneducated" citizens "have never attended school" because that piece of information is already strongly implied.

Here are two examples of phrases that can typically be omitted from your writing:

  1. "all things considered"
    • All things considered, Connecticut's woodlands are in better shape now than ever before.
    • All things considered, Connecticut's woodlands are in better shape now than ever before.
  2. "as a matter of fact"
    • As a matter of fact, there are more woodlands in Connecticut now than there were in 1898.
    • As a matter of fact, There are more woodlands in Connecticut now than there were in 1898.

Here is an example of how you can condense confusing phrases into single words:

  • Confusing sentence: Citizens who knew what was going on voted him out of office.
  • Clearer sentence: Knowledgeable citizens voted him out of office.

Practice Exercises

Wordiness and Redundancy Exercise

200 Common Redundancies

Purdue Online Writing Lab: Eliminating Unnecessary Words


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