It’s no secret: PR and communications professionals spend an extraordinary amount of time writing. But we often don’t have time to review our work to ensure that it’s as effective as it could be.
Writers sometimes fall into the redundancy trap. In conversation, it’s easy to give into long-winded, wordy and repetitive speech. It’s less forgivable in writing.
There are many reasons why writing is redundant. Some people insert unnecessary words or phrases because that’s what they’re used to hearing (e.g., “estimated at about,” “very unique,” “last and final,” etc.). Others think using a lot of words makes them sound smarter or more polished. For example, when sending an email to one’s boss, a person might say “due to the fact” when “because” would suffice.
Others are simply looking to reach a certain word count, and in such cases, they turn to a writer’s lazy fallback: fluff. But fear not, there’s hope. Below are a few tips you can use to help tighten your writing:
- Eliminate redundant pairs (each and every, whole and entire, full and complete, true and accurate, always and forever, etc.):
- Example: My friend Mallory drank the whole entire bottle of vodka at the party.
- Revision: My friend Mallory drank the entire bottle of vodka at the party.
- Delete unnecessary qualifiers (actually, really, probably, very, definitely, kind of, extremely, etc.):
- Example: I actually have no clue who wrote the RFP.
- Revision: I have no clue who wrote the RFP.
- Replace a phrase with a word (due to the fact that, it is necessary that, cannot be avoided, etc.):
- Example: Since it is necessary that you be home by 6 p.m., you should leave work early.
- Revision: Since you must be home by 6 p.m., you should leave work early.
- Identify negatives and change them to positives:
- Example: If she has not submitted her timesheets by Tuesday, then she cannot take a lunch break this week.
- Revision: Employees who have submitted their timesheets by Tuesday can take a lunch break this week.