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clear communication: reduce redundancy

"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."

—Thomas Jefferson

You can lower your word count by eliminating redundancy (useless repetition). This will help make your documents easy to read and understand.

Redundancy isn’t always easy to spot, though; many redundant expressions have become part of everyday language. For instance, a lot of people wouldn’t even bat an eye at "crisis situation," "end result" or "safe haven," even though "crisis," "result" and "haven" have just as much meaning with half the words!

We’re committed to helping you never use two words when one will do. So, we’ve compiled some simple rules to point you in the direction of conciseness:

Absolute values

Do not modify adjectives that express an absolute state. Absolutes do not have different degrees of intensity.

Here are some examples.

Redundant Revised

Saikat was completely certain he had been there before.

Saikat was certain he had been there before.

It is absolutely essential that you correct this error before it goes to print.

It is essential that you correct this error before it goes to print.

Janos’ interpretation of that piece was very unique.

Janos’ interpretation of that piece was unique.

Acronym additions

Do not spell out the final word of these common acronyms:

Redundant Revised

ABS system

ABS

ATM machine

ATM

HIV virus

HIV

ISBN number

ISBN

LCD display

LCD

PIN number

PIN

SIN number

SIN

UPC code

UPC

Cut "back"

Delete the word "back" after verbs where the "back" is implied, such as date, recall, refer, reflect, reply and revert.

Here are some examples.

Redundant Revised

Provide your name and e-mail address if you want our communications staff to reply back to you.

Provide your name and e-mail address if you want our communications staff to reply to you.

I refer you back to paragraph 2(1)(c) of the Income Tax Act.

I refer you to paragraph 2(1)(c) of the Income Tax Act.

Priya reflected back on the year and tried to pick out the best concert she had been to.

Priya reflected on the year and tried to pick out the best concert she had been to.

Good as "new"

Delete the adjective "new" when it modifies a noun that is implicitly new.

Here are a few examples.

Redundant Revised

This initiative will promote new innovation and cleaner communities.

This initiative will promote innovation and cleaner communities.

In the early 1900s, Toronto’s Thomas F. Ryan received accolades for his new invention: five-pin bowling.

In the early 1900s, Toronto’s Thomas F. Ryan received accolades for his invention: five-pin bowling.

On the first day of training, new recruits watched a documentary on the evolving role of the warden in Canada’s national parks.

On the first day of training, recruits (or new employees) watched a documentary on the evolving role of the warden in Canada’s national parks.

Too much "together"

Delete the word "together" from phrases where the verb means something like join or assemble. The together is unnecessary because it is implied in the verb.

Here are a few examples.

Redundant Revised

We assumed layoffs would be inevitable once our small firm merged together with a large corporation.

We assumed layoffs would be inevitable once our small firm merged with a large corporation.

Noora compiled the data together into one spreadsheet.

Noora compiled the data into one spreadsheet.

Parties tend to rally together around such issues.

Parties tend to rally around such issues.

Follow these rules and you’ll eliminate some common redundancies in your writing.