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Redundancy and Wordiness

Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Eliminating wordiness and redundancy is an important skill in writing. Tips and tricks for eliminating wordiness and redundancy include (1) eliminating passive voice, (2) identifying and eliminating repetitive words, and (3) checking for prepositional and appositive phrases and making sure they're relative.

One of my favorite famous quotes is George Bernard Shaw. He once said, "I'm sorry this letter is so long, I didn't have tine to make it short." When I really thought about that, I realized how true that was. Sometimes it so easy to write down a lot of words to describe something. The hard part is actually pairing it down. However, if you want to be really clear and direct in what you're saying in your writing, it's an important skill to have.

So we're going to talk redundancy and wordiness. How to be clear, concise, and direct with what you're saying. The tricks I have for reducing some of the redundancy and wordiness, is first to take a look at what you're looking at, and eliminate passive voice.

Next, identify and eliminate any repetitive words or phrases that you see. Finally, check prepositional and a positive phrases, to make sure that they're necessary. Sometimes those take up a lot of words. Let's take a look at some examples, and see if we can cut down on what we've got here.

The first one is, "The award winning typist's per minute typing speed reached up to 120 words per minute'. So we can hear just by reading that, that we've got some repetitious phrases there. The first one that I notice is per minute here, and per minute here. Now we know we can go ahead, and eliminate one of those. Let's go ahead and eliminate this first one.

The other repetition I saw was we have typist, and typing. So if we know somebody is a typist, we know the speed of what they're doing, or what they're doing, is actually typing. So I think we can eliminate this here. That changes this to 'The award winning typist's speed reached up to 120 words per minute." So we've got kind of the same thing with a lot fewer words.

Let's take a look here. In order to reduce the rate of criminal activity, the building will be constantly monitored by security guards around the clock. So the first thing I hear there, is a little bit of passive voice, because I see this verb phrase 'will be'. So the building will be monitored by security guards could also be said by security guards will monitor. That is a lot shorter there. I also notice in that same part of the sentence, the phrase 'around the clock', and the phrase 'constantly'. Now those mean the same thing, so we can get rid of one of them.

Let's go ahead and get rid of around the clock. So the last half of this sentence turns into; security guards, let's bring that up, here will constantly monitor. That saved us a lot of words. So security guards will constantly monitor the building.

Let's go up to the beginning of the sentence too. I think there are some things that could be cut out there. I told you to keep an eye out for those prepositional phrases. 'In order to' is one of those prepositional phrases. We don't really need that, it just adds a little bit of fluff there. So let's get rid of in order. We've got 'to reduce the rate of criminal activity'. Now that's a really nice sounding fancy way of saying, but isn't the rate of criminal activity just crime. So we can change that to crime.

Now we've changed our sentence to; to reduce the crime, the building will be constantly monitored, or the security guards will constantly monitor the building. Much shorter than that original one that we started with.

This is a way to kind of look through, cut down what you guys have there, so you can save space for what you really need to say.