Ridding Your Writing of Redundancy

Redundancy is a type of wordy phrase in which, usually, one word is giving the message and the other word is, in a different way, repeating the message. In the phrase
“VIN Number,” the term “VIN” already means Vehicle Identification Number, so following this phrase with the word “number” is redundant.

In the following list, I name a number of redundancies on the left side of the page. On the right side, I provide a substitute word or phrase that eliminates the redundancy
of the phrase on the left.

Maybe you think that using phrases like “IRA Account” or “true facts” or “cancel out” is small stuff and won’t result in lost business or even embarrassment. But for
people who are aware of redundancies, they may find a way to make a claims letter a laughingstock in a court of law. As a friend of mine once said, “Redundant phrases may be a trifle, but being aware of trifles can lead to perfection – and perfection is no

Redundant Substitute
absolutely perfect perfect
actual experience experience
add together add
any and all all
as a general rule as a rule
at this moment in time at this time
cancel out cancel
chemotherapy treatment chemotherapy
circle around circle
circular in shape circular
close proximity near, close
combine into one combine
completely honest honest
completely unanimous unanimous
consensus of opinion consensus
consecutive in a row consecutive
different varieties varieties
current status status
each and every each
end result result
estimate about estimate
foreign imports imports
group meeting meeting
necessary requisite requisite
overall plan plan
PIN number PIN
public media media
really unique unique
tuition fees tuition
VIN number VIN
whether or not whether

A few on this list may not meet with your agreement: Why is “public media” redundant? Because all media is public.

Why is “chemotherapy treatment” redundant? Because therapy is a form of “treatment.”

Why is “completely honest” redundant? Because “honest,” like “pregnant” or “perfect” cannot be modified. They are known as superlatives. One is honest or not.

I hope you’ll e-mail me any redundancies you see in claims letters and I’ll be glad to write a follow-up column. Send them to me at garyblake725@gmail.com.