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Cut Word Clutter: Get Rid of Tag-ons and Redundancies

This is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips for writing like a pro.

Let’s say you have to fill out a form online and you’re restricted to 100 words. You absolutely cannot add one more word; the system won’t allow it.

So you work it the best you can, but what can you search for in your quest to meet the magic number of words? Tag-ons and redundancies (which aren’t needed, anyway).

In these tag-ons, you can get rid of the second word. It’s tagging along, not adding meaning:

  • continue on
  • ramble on
  • refer back to
  • open up
  • cancel out
  • follow on
  • send out
  • start out
  • finish up

Watch out for these common redundancies:

  • grouped together
  • add more
  • still persist
  • continue to remain
  • plan ahead
  • sum total

With many redundancies, you might select one or the other. For example, would you write “sum” or “total”? Look at the context and make your choice. Just know that using both—“sum total”—is unnecessary.

Your challenge: Question every phrase you think may be redundant and experiment each of the words separately. Which one is better in context? Choose one, not both.

Today’s Word Tripper from Word Trippers Tips:

Comment, commentary – A “comment” is a brief statement of fact or opinion. “Commentary” is one or more statements (written or oral) containing opinions, explanations or interpretations. “The announcer’s sarcastic comment about the team’s losing streak punctuated his commentary about the players’ poor skills.” Also, “commentary” refers to anything that makes a point or provides a perspective. “The neighborhood’s high crime rate is a sad commentary on failed social programs.”


When you know how to write with precision, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created an annual subscription program called Word Trippers Tips. It features 52 Word Trippers of the Week, a webinar, crossword puzzle, writing tips, and the ebook Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters. Details at www.WordTrippers.com/odi.

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