Surely you know how often I urge you to proofread everything you write. Proofreading will turn up careless errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as typos. Yes, you should still check for all of these, but editing goes beyond that.
Editing makes certain your writing is clear. Are you sure you are conveying the message you intended? Have you assumed your readers know what you know? If so, then why are you writing? You are imparting new information. But you have to be confident you are not confusing your readers, that your information that is new to them is presented logically and cogently.
Editing makes certain your writing is concise. Look for digressions and extraneous words. Get rid of redundancies: last but not least, at this point in time, absolutely complete, true fact, four P.M. in the afternoon, new innovation, blue in color, exactly identical, etc.
I have noticed that when I edit and change wording or move things around, when I then reread what I’ve written I often find I have left a word out or need to remove a word I had inadvertently left in when I revised. This is the time to read your text out loud (quietly, but still audible to you) and one. word. at. a. time. That way you will send your document out without embarrassing glitches. If you read at your normal silent speed, you will very likely speed over them.
Remember, revise comes from the Latin, to see again.
© Judi Birnberg
I’ve taken the following list from Maxwell Nurnberg’s Questions You Always Wanted to Ask About English*
* but were afraid to raise your hand.
It’s good to be concise when we write; see if you can spot the redundancies in these sentences:
- If all of us cooperate together, we’ll get somewhere.
- It was the general consensus of opinion that war was inevitable.
- He shook his fist as he rose up to speak.
- He was guilty of a false misstatement.
- He told ties, socks, shirts, and etc.
- He must now realize the fact that we are no longer able to help him.
- In my opinion, I think the situation has grown worse.
- He carefully examined each and every entry.
- He was miraculously restored back to health.
- His score for 18 holes never exceeded more than 75.
(Mr. Nurnberg certainly could have thrown a few examples in using females.—JB)
Do you catch yourself saying or writing any of the following? Be aware they are redundancies. Cut out the deadwood.
• Future plans
• Positive benefit
• Exact same
• End result
• Added bonus
• PIN number
• Repeat again
• Very/S0/Extremely Unique
• Free gift
I hope and trust you realize and understand the subject line above is a kidding joke. So many phrases we hear and read daily are redundant, but we rarely have the awareness to eliminate them; we have gotten used to them. Are any of these your favorites?
The end result
A contributing factor
Face up to the problem
Suffocated to death
Modest about himself
Own her own home
Shrug her shoulders, nod her head
Many redundancies crop up around “personal” or “personally”:
“I personally think that….” There’s a double.
These two are triples:
“I myself personally think that…”
“It’s my own personal opinion that…”
Einstein said, “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler.” (Aren’t you glad he didn’t make the theory of relativity more complicated?)
Albert Einstein (Photo credit: afagen)