Omit hiccups and other needless repetition

Short words (often prepositions) that unnecessarily accompany verbs or other parts of speech are sometimes termed "hiccups." Omitting the italicized words in Table 5.3 column 1 does not change the meaning, a sure sign that the hiccup is unnecessary A longer sort of hiccup occurs with roundabout, indirect constructions such as "There is a cure available. It consists of. . ." This can be rewritten simply as "The available cure consists of. . ."

Tautology, a closely related problem, is defined as needless repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence. Poor scientific writing often includes many phrases in which one of the terms implies the other or in which one term in a phrase is in the general category to which the other term belongs (Table 5.3, columns 2 and 3). For example, a consensus is defined as an agreement in opinion, so consensus ofopinion is redundant.

A similar sort of wordiness occurs when words that are absolute are mistakenly modified. There is no difference between absolutely complete and complete, for example. Other absolute words that resist modifiers include dead, extinct, fatal, final, honest, horizontal, impossible, inferior, libelous, lifeless, matchless, moral, mortal, obvious, peerless, perfect, permanent, rare, safe, straight, unique, universal and vertical.

Some writers attempt to give their prose an air of elegance by using terms that contain two words which both mean the same thing. Common examples include basic and fundamental; final and conclusive; null and void; each and every; first and foremost: and visible and observable. Omit one word in each pair; the meaning is unchanged.

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