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20 Redundant Phrases to Eliminate from Your Writing

I’ve always been a firm advocate for getting your point across in as few words as possible. Today’s readers are more pressed for time than ever before, and as it relates to PR, reporters are bombarded by pitches all day long, so the faster you can get to the point, the better.

Unfortunately, a lot of writers have a tendency to use redundant phrases that bog down their writing. Using unnecessary words doesn’t just make your press release, article, blog, email, etc. longer, it also makes it weaker and muddles whatever point you’re trying to make. Keeping your sentences crisp and clear can add punch to your writing, helping you get your point across more effectively.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 20 redundant phrases you should strive to eliminate from your writing.

  1. Advance notice — When you give notice for something, you’re doing so in advance of the event taking place. Just use the word “notice.”
  2. Advance preview — The dictionary defines preview as “anything that gives an advance idea or impression of something to come.” There’s no need to slap the word “advance” in front of it.
  3. At the present time — Simply say either “at present” or “at this time.” There’s no need to be wordy.
  4. Close proximity — The word proximity already means “close by,” so it doesn’t need to be qualified with the word “close.”
  5. Collaborate together — You see this one a lot in press releases announcing partnerships or mergers. When you collaborate, you’re working with others. The word “together” is redundant.
  6. Completely unanimous — Let’s go back to the dictionary, shall we? Unanimous: in complete agreement. That’s all you need.
  7. End result — By definition, the result of something takes place at the end. Cut the word “end.”
  8. Extra bonus — A bonus is something extra, so you don’t need to use that extra word (see what I did there?) to try to build excitement.
  9. Final outcome — See #7.
  10. Free gift — Nothing beats free. Thankfully, gifts are free.
  11. Major breakthrough — This is another one you see in press releases and marketing materials. A breakthrough is something that provides a significant or sudden advance or development. Adding the word “major” is unnecessary.
  12. New beginning — Leave it at “beginning.”
  13. New innovation — Once again, I can’t tell you how many press releases I’ve seen that use this phrase. An innovation is something new or different by definition. No need for the word “new.”
  14. Past history — All history is in the past.
  15. Positive improvement — As opposed to what…a negative improvement?
  16. Repeat again — To repeat is to perform an action again, making the word “again” pointless.
  17. Serious crisis — If you’ve ever faced a PR crisis (or any type of crisis), I don’t have to tell you that it’s serious. All crises are serious.
  18. Totally unique — There aren’t degrees of unique. Something is either unique or it isn’t.
  19. Unexpected surprise — If you’re expecting something to happen, it’s not a surprise.
  20. Unintended mistake — If you intended for something to happen, it wasn’t a mistake; it was a poor decision.

What are some other redundant phrases that drive you nuts? Share your favorites by commenting below.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html


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8 Responses

  1. K Staples says:

    Excellent, Mickie. Some of these redundancies are so ingrained that we have forgotten the proper grammer rules.

    Thanks for reminding us!

  2. Kola Kayode says:

    Well said Mickie. But I dont quite agree with you on the word ‘notice’. This word can attract the adjective ‘advance’ because not all notice is given in advance. More, see below Merriam Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary’s definition of ‘notice’. Thumbs up!

    NOTICE: warning or intimation of something : ANNOUNCEMENT (2) : the announcement of a party’s intention to quit an agreement or relation at a specified time (3) : the condition of being warned or notified — usually used in the phrase on notice b : INFORMATION, INTELLIGENCE
    2 a : ATTENTION, HEED b : polite or favorable attention : CIVILITY
    3 : a written or printed announcement
    4 : a short critical account or review

  3. My fav: “in order to” — arrgh. Just “to.”

  4. Carey Kehler says:

    This is not a redundant phrase but it is a phrase I dislike seeing in marketing or advertising: “New and Improved”.

    It’s either NEW or it’s IMPROVED it can’t be both.

  5. Bobby Hawthorne says:

    I hate this one: “I thought to myself…”

    Who else could you think to?

  6. Beth says:

    #3 – How about just “now”? Sometimes the use of present tense is enough.
    Another one for the list: first started, first introduced, etc.

  7. Amiek says:

    Have you ever tried to converse in a foreign language? After asking someone to repeat a specific sentence/word/phrase/saying three times, you might want to ask them to repeat it again ;-)

  8. PR Fuel says:

    Thanks Amiek. Good advice.

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