Words you don't need to use but do (aka redundancy)

Good quality content is straightforward and to the point, where every word is made to count. This matters because people are busy, pressed for time and impatient. They want quick results and an easy life. And they certainly don’t want to have to work hard for whatever it is they’re after. So do them and your business a favour by making it easy for them. Cut out redundant words across all your comms.

What is redundancy?

Redundancy is the use of two or more words that say the same thing, like merge together. This kind of unnecessary repetition, which can be found in all types of content online, isn’t helpful. All it does is just add more words to a landing page, a blog, an email, a social media post. And the internet has more than enough words already.

Why is redundancy a problem?

People scan when they read online, so the fewer words you use, the easier it is for your readers to find what they’re looking for. That makes for a positive user experience.  Redundant words do the opposite. They clog up text and make information less discoverable, which wastes people’s time. That user experience is not great.

Redundant words also have an impact on how you or your organisation is perceived. At the most extreme level, they can make you appear as though you don’t fully understand the meaning of the words you’re using. And that’s not for your reputation.

For example, take the joke expression, true fact. A fact is defined as being something that is held to be true – so there’s no benefit whatsoever to having the word true immediately precede the word fact. So the expression is used in a joking way to either emphasise the truth of something or in an ironic way about something completely and obviously fictional.

Another good example is PIN number. PIN stands for personal identification number. So to say PIN number is to say, personal identification number number. You don’t really get any more redundant than that. Again, make that mistake and you're sending out the message that your standards aren’t that high.

Common offenders

Look, it happens. Redundancy creeps in. And that’s fine. We’re human. But that shouldn’t take away from the fact that quality matters. Being attentive to how your copy reads and how it’s structured isn’t something you should do on an ad hoc basis. You need to meticulously review and refine every piece of content before setting it live.

Not only does it demonstrate professionalism and expertise, it also shows consideration and care, that you are the kind of person and business that wants to produce the best kind of copy that delivers the best kind of results for your audience. That mentality does indeed set you apart from your competition.

So, be ruthless with your copy and edit and proof like a pro. To get you thinking more about redundant words, here are some common offenders to look out for:

  • hence why
  • send across
  • respond back
  • overexaggerate
  • as yet
  • must necessarily
  • mix together
  • off of
  • moment in time
  • end result
  • plan ahead

A final word

There’s a lot more that could be said about redundancy – it’s quite a big topic – but we’ll save that for another day and another post. The key thing to understand is that the most effective type of content is concise, easy to read and helpful. Cutting out redundant words is one of the best ways of ensuring that.

At Melt Digital we believe in the power of words. Words that inspire. Words that entertain. And words that help people solve problems. Get in touch and find out how we can help you use words more effectively, whatever your goals.

For other writing tips, check out the articles below:

Acknowledgements: A big thank you to Rich Kimber whose handy, internal writing tips helped inspire this series.

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