Better writer tip #4: Ban tautologies from your business writing and editing

Posted by Oliver Hogue on 09/07/2014

An easy way to improve your writing and editing is to remove unnecessary words. A tautology is the use of redundant words. So, tautologies are one form of redundancy that you can remove from your writing (and speaking) – once you are aware of them.

A tautology is the repetition of meaning in two consecutive words, or the needless repetition of an idea. Examples of tautologies include:

  • Free gift
  • Added bonus
  • Adequate enough
  • New innovation
  • Forward planning
  • Short summary
  • Unexpected surprise
  • Past history
  • Reiterate again
  • Joint cooperation.

In each of the examples above one of the words can be removed.

For instance, instead of saying, a ‘new innovation’, say an ‘innovation’ – because to innovate it must be new. The word new is redundant and adds no value.

What about a ‘short summary’? Well, if it’s not short it’s not a summary. So, use ‘summary’ only. The word short is redundant.

Or an ‘unexpected surprise’? If the surprise is expected it isn’t a surprise, is it? So, use ‘surprise’. The word unexpected is redundant.

Removing tautologies applies to all types of writing – from tenders to features and everything in between. It will make your writing clearer and prevent it from being redundant and superfluous.

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