41 redundancies you should ditch

As Strunk and White wrote, ‘Omit needless words.’ Many common phrases include superfluous modifiers. Whether you’re writing or editing, get rid of them.

As corporate communicators and PR professionals, we’ve all experienced writer’s block. But how about editor’s block?

I’ve always believed that editing someone else’s work is easier than writing your own. Lately, though, I’ve been asked to “work my magic” on so many bad writing projects—blog posts, emails, articles—that I am not so sure anymore. Sometimes I just stare at the screen wondering, “What can I possibly do with this?”

Because I am not paid to stare at the screen, I have to start somewhere. A good place to start is to cut the clutter and eliminate redundant expressions. Below is a list of extra words that add nothing to your content. Eliminate such phrases to tighten the writing. (Redundant words are italicized.)

absolutely essential
actual facts
added bonus
• ATM machine
brief moment
brief summary
• classify into groups
• close proximity
• consensus of opinion
• emergency situation
empty space
• filled to capacity
general public
• heat up
• introduced a new
• introduced for the first time
joint collaboration
• look ahead to the future
major breakthrough
• mix together
mutual cooperation
natural instinct
new beginning
new recruit
overused cliché
• period of time
personal friend
• PIN number
• plan ahead
• reason why
• reflect back
• reply back
• safe haven
still remains
sudden impulse
temper tantrum
ultimate goal
unexpected surprise
unintentional mistake
very unique
• visible to the eye

Readers, which of these redundancies do you find most annoying? Have you any to add?


Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor. She is a regular contributor to PRDaily.com. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.

This article first appeared on Ragan.com in Oct. 2013.

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