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Overly Redundant

Posted on Friday, July 31, 2009 at 2:52 PM

Trimming the superfluous from your articles.

By Meredith L. Dias

It can be difficult for even the most astute writer to avoid redundancy in an article. Sometimes, we forget that certain words are linked definitionally and, when paired, become redundant.

Here are some common redundancies to avoid in your writing:

Revert back -- As a general rule, avoid using the word "back" after words with the "re-" prefix. (See also: "reflect back", "return back", etc.)
ATM machine -- Be careful when appending acronyms; often times, the extra words are actual components of the acronym. (See also: "HIV virus", "CIA Agency", etc.)
End result -- When framing your sentences, think carefully about the definitions of the words you choose. In cases like this, the two words share a definitional link. (See also: "past history", "crisis situation", etc.)
Completely destroyed -- When introducing adjectives and verbs with an adverb, keep in mind whether or not the adverb is implied in the subsequent word. The word "destroyed" denotes complete ruin; therefore, "completely" is superfluous. (See also: "originally created", etc.)

Look online for some comprehensive lists of redundancies. Odds are, you will find one or two that you have either used in your own writing or allowed to pass into print. Fear not -- you are certainly not the first editor to fall into this trap. By paying closer attention to word meanings and connotations, you will sharpen your eye for these mistakes and avoid them in future issues.

Meredith L. Dias is the research editor of Editors Only.

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