Redundancy is the needless repetition of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs or ideas that mean the same thing. In a redundant phrase, the extra word adds nothing new. The modifying word’s meaning is contained in the word it is modifying.

The goal of scientific writing is to be as clear and concise as possible. Especially in today’s setting, when medical journals in particular are setting shorter and shorter word limits on manuscript submissions. Every word should be necessary and add something new to the manuscript. If you can remove a word from a sentence, and it doesn’t change the meaning, then that word is redundant. When you read the sentence or paragraph, ask yourself if every word is really necessary – see what I’ve done there?

Here’s a list of common redundancies to check for in your medical and business writing, with a recommendation of what to use instead:

Also be careful with redundancies in abbreviations, such as:

HIV virus, where the “V” stands for virus
PIN number, where the “N” stands for number
PDF format, where the “F” stands for format
ATM machine, where the “M” stands for machine
LCD display, where the “D” stands for display

In composing these lists, I realized that there are a few redundancies I still use occasionally. I’ll have to pay more attention to my own writing from now on!

Hoping you found this #WeeklyWritingTip helpful. If you think of any other redundant phrases, I’d love to hear about them in the Comments section below. Also feel free to leave a suggestion for a future blog topic.