A symmetrical line art illustration picturing a wine glass, shrimp and lemon wedges

The Associated Press (AP) Style Guide was first published in 1953. In the 70 years since, professional communicators around the world have looked to it for clarity regarding stylistic nuances about capitalization, abbreviation, spelling and numerals. 

Personally, there’s no question it’s been an invaluable resource to me over my career. But for newcomers, it’s important to note that the periodical does not provide writers with the means to learn to write. AP assumes its users can already craft sentences that include a working understanding of the proper usage of verb tenses, an inherent grasp of subject/verb agreement, and a nuanced balance of active and passive writing.

As such, it never touches on redundancy, i.e., there’s no section on how or when to avoid phrases which unnecessarily repeat themselves. And more than anyone, B2B professionals have an inherent understanding of what can differentiate concise, clear and engaging content from the rest. We’ve even been evaluating what it takes to simply write like a human as content produced by artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more prevalent. 

But if you’re still not following me, let me tell you a little story (with apologies to any potential TL;DR readers) to see if you’re guilty of any of these redundant phrases …

How Redundancy Can Change the Narrative

Established Tradition written on paper with pencil

After calling ahead to make an advance reservation, I recently had a date night — an established tradition — with my lovely wife, whom I consider my close confidant. I still retain the same level of adoration for her from our relationship’s original beginnings in 2000. 

On that note, when we first began dating two decades ago, the way we interacted together on our date nights in our historical past varied significantly from the ones nowadays. I suppose when you combine together different friends, professional careers and “those people who live down the hall” (i.e., our children), these things tend to happen. 

And when it comes to the latter folks I mentioned, I can assure you, they’re not young babies anymore. But as their parents, we recognize their future potential may be unlimited. So my wife and I came to a consensus of opinion to try our hardest to mutually cooperate in their upbringing. Sometimes it’s challenging but rewarding; and if we could employ a small village to help, we would.

But as I had mentioned previously, my wife and I have a bit of past history together. I think 20 years of marriage is a major milestone. I believe we can both agree. My love for her still continues, even as we’ve relocated elsewhere over the years. (We’re still waiting to build a new house, though.)

But I digress; let’s get back to the restaurant. 

While I perused the menu, I anxiously hoped we both didn’t order the exact same thing. But as I read each dish’s description, I couldn’t help but stare and fixate upon a specific item: jumbo shrimp. I thought it would be sound logic to order it. As I asked around the dining area, lo and behold, eyewitnesses at the scene agreed with me. (It was hard not to notice the jumbo shrimp dishes that had completely surrounded our table in close proximity.) Shortly after ordering, our waiter learned it was our anniversary, and we were excited to be bestowed with a free gift at the end of our meal.

Being the savvy copy editor I am, I thought, “Ah, redundance strikes again. But it’s just a menu. I suppose it’s adequate enough.”

I assure you this story is non-fiction, as I have a well-known reputation for stating true facts to uphold. The sum total of this is immense. Sure, I may have accidentally misfired a few times. But who hasn’t? I’m sure military troops have. I may be incorrect, but it’s my own personal belief that it’s an old adage. But I don’t really know what the current status is. (If I’m wrong, I hope not to be exiled abroad!)

Although somewhat brief, I certainly hope you find my tale sufficient enough. I also hope it reaches you as a bit of an unexpected surprise. If you couldn’t ascertain, the underlying premise of this writing exercise is to highlight examples of the redundant terminology I often encounter. I didn’t want it to get too lengthy; it’s not like I set out to craft a little booklet. (But if I did, and you happened to live in Canada, I promise the copy I’d export past my borders had my personal autograph on it.) And while it may not be the single most challenging aspect of my position, I can only hope we can unite together to eliminate these phrases from the future prospects of our professional writing endeavors.

A spot the difference puzzle featuring two place settings of shrimp
Can you spot all eight differences?

Removing Redundancy in Your Writing

As I approach the final vestiges of this blog, I hope it’s a temporary respite from your daily troubles, especially if you’re a top business magnate. Perhaps I even provided a chuckle as you squinted your eyes to read the same sentence over and over again. I’m not expecting anyone to erect a historical monument to me or anything, but I’m only hoping you’ve taken notice of my personal charisma. I’m realistic though, and far too modest to believe this is the single greatest thing you’ve read today. So rather than create a long litany of further examples to pontificate anew, I’d like to leave you with a few more redundant terms:

  • chief mainstay
  • close personal friend
  • foreign imports
  • future successor
  • joint coalition
  • live studio audience
  • past career
  • past custom
  • share together
  • still retains
  • tandem couple

Write With Emotion (and Get to the Point!)

There’s no denying the abundance of methods available to generate content in 2023. In mere seconds, practically anyone can publish anything on websites, social media, blogs, and online forums and groups. However, it is important to understand that ease of use does not equate to mastery of the craft. And as someone who has read countless deliverables — spanning brief social media and flyer copy to long-form white papers, technical articles and e-books — believe me when I tell you writing is wholeheartedly a craft. 

Once you get past achieving a mastery of spelling, subject-verb agreement, and the daunting rules of grammar and writing styles, remember to take your readers into consideration. Redundancy can create an extra, unneeded challenge for your reading audience. 

Always consider quality and clarity in your writing over word count. You don’t want to obscure your messaging or squander valuable time with potential customers because of confusing, unnecessary copy. 

And if you’re writing for print, redundant phrases may take up much needed space on the page you could be using to persuade someone. As a reader, writer and consumer yourself, you may know better than anyone what good writing looks like. (Quick hint: redundant phrases are not part of the equation.)

If you ever want to rally together to discuss separating out redundancy in an effort to improve your B2B writing, feel free to reach out to us. I’d love to meet personally, too.