Business Writing Essentials
Usage

Superfluity

Many people believe they need to use many words to make their writing look professional. This is backwards. At work, time is money, so we should make our writing concise. One way to make it concise is to remove the superfluous words we are accustomed to using when we talk:

(1) Remove repetitive parts of pairs:

Each and every salesperson verified that orders were true and accurate.

Keep the word that you think is most appropriate to the sentence.

Other culprits:

any and all

one and only

first and foremost

over and done

various and sundry

hope and trust

(2) Remove categories when they are already implied:

My desk will be neat in appearance if the computers are small in size.

Other culprits:

unusual in nature

eight in number

of a coarse texture

extreme in degree

of cheap quality

in a confused state

period in time

heavy in weight

(3) Remove modifiers that are already implied by the meaning of the word they modify:

If we continue on, the end result could be a terrible tragedy.

The following story is full of unnecessary modifiers:

We stayed late in order to help Lee assemble the report. Working as a team was more preferable to burdening him. Of course, better advance planning could have helped. But we figured joint cooperation was the way to go. We all knew the surrounding circumstances were difficult. There were various differences in format and style. Grammar gaffs continue to remain a problem. And we weren't sure as to whether the graphs were done. There was always the potential opportunity for disaster. But we were confident the final outcome would be good.

However, we didn't anticipate in advance data file problems. We worked hard to merge together the spreadsheets. The data was needed for the purpose of validating results. Readers need to have at hand supporting facts. We provided them adequate enough background data. This extra effort prolonged the duration of our work. Next time we will plan ahead to order pizza. It was obvious that each individual worker was hungry. In the end, there was consensus of opinion about the report. When we cooperate together like this, we succeed.

Lesson: Superfluity
Module: Usage
Course: Business Writing Essentials