How to remove redundant phrases

Before you can remove redundant phrases, first, you have to recognise that they exist and in some sectors of business that is near to impossible, for example, government, science, insurance, etc.

The majority of people will have heard the saying, “why use three words when one will do”, and in certain circumstances this is perfectly correct.

Unfortunately, these days, this has been carried to the extreme and quite often, what has been written really doesn’t make much sense.

At the other end of the spectrum, you may have heard bloated sentences or phrases and wondered what the speaker or writer really meant.

Here are some examples of phrases that can easily be reduced:

At this point in time – now
Based on the fact that – because
Bring to finality – end, conclude
In terms of – regarding
In view of the above mentioned – therefore
Over the period of a decade – ten years
Please find enclosed – enclosed

You can probably add to these.

Leaving out phrases

Leave out some phrases completely or rewrite the sentence. For example:

In terms of the marketing strategy, we intend to use a good cross section of exposure…

This can be rewritten as…
We intend to use a good cross section of exposure in our marketing strategy.

Our marketing strategy will give us a good cross section of exposure.

Here are some of the most popular phrases and often they are completely unnecessary:

In terms of
In order to
During the month of
In consideration of the fact that

I’m sure you can add to these.

You need to be vigilant because bloated phrases can easily creep into your writing.

Keep a record

If there are certain phrases you use all the time, open a word document, write the phrase and an alternative. If necessary, print this page so you can add to it or refer to it when you are writing. The next time you go to use the wordy phrase refer to your list and you will begin to use the more concise version.

An easy way to fix this is, write the way you usually do and then go back through the document and remove redundant phrases and use the more concise alternative.

Example of the difference it can make

A few years ago, a legal firm asked if I could help with rewriting a tender response. This firm had been trying for six years to win a particular contract, but had not succeeded.

When I read the proposed submission, it was full of legal terms and legal speak. It was difficult to read and understand, so I was not surprised this firm had been unsuccessful with its tender in the past.

A lawyer helped me decipher the content, then, I rewrote it into plain English without losing any of the technical intent. A few weeks later, I learnt the law firm had successfully been awarded the very lucrative contract.

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