User:Tony1/Redundancy exercises: removing fluff from your writing

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"Ministry of Works" says it all! You wonder whether ten words could be six or five (or fewer, if you want it to be what functional grammar calls "a short text". Removing words could make the sign more direct and the font-size bigger.
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Redundancy, rather than poor grammar and spelling, is the biggest source of problems in prose. Here are sets of exercises to sharpen your ability to identify redundancy. The exercises tend to get harder as you progress through the page. Remember, you're trying to develop the habit of scrutinising the need for every word in a text. Undertaking these exercises can be the start of a longer project to tighten up your prose.

"Unfolding" design. The exercises are designed to be done in your head, without writing. On purpose, each unfolds in stages: first, the problem text, then a succession of hints to help you along; then a solution; finally an explanation. You'll get the most out of the exercises by thinking carefully about each stage before clicking on the next. Stop before you've had enough, and plan to return each day to take up where you left off. "Distributed" ("spaced out") practice rather than "massed" (all at once) will have a more lasting effect on your writing style.

Visitors: why not register as an editor? This page receives an average of 10 visits a day—more when external writing courses have recommended it. If you're a visitor, please consider the satisfaction you might gain from joining the global effort to build the largest repository of knowledge in human history, by becoming a registered editor. It's simple, free, private, and takes about five minutes. Share your knowledge with the world, and contribute only the amount of time you choose.

But of course you're welcome to do the exercises without registering.

Feedback on how to improve these exercises is welcome on the talk page.


Self-help writing tutorials:

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Starting out: removing a single word[edit]

Let's begin with straightforward tasks. The following six examples can be improved by striking just one word. First, try to identify this word in each of these cases; then hit [Show] to view the suggested solution.


A[edit]

Last month, more than 40% of featured article nominations successfully passed.



B[edit]

The vectors—green and yellow—follow the average rainfall pattern for each region (see Figure 2).



C[edit]

They invaded the coast and brought along European diseases.

D[edit]

The manager has plans to accept the offer.



E[edit]

The least accessible forested areas were the last ones to be cleared.



F[edit]

Both the parents chose to educate their children in Beijing.

Removing a single word: more exercises[edit]

More straightforward tasks.

A[edit]

This sudden recognition had led to keen competition for Handel's future services.


B[edit]

The orbiter project, cancelled in 2005, would have specifically targeted Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.



C[edit]

These two species are both members of the equine family.



D[edit]

After 1731 the opera was not staged again for more than 200 years.



E[edit]

There are three established methods available for the delignification of lignocellulosic biomass.



F[edit]

Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 was a turning point for the composer. However, in the years following the work's premiere, he revised it several times.



How many did you get right?

  • All correct: excellent—consider moving straight to Redundancy renovations (1).
  • One or two wrong: fair.
  • More than two wrong: this skill needs attention—consider undertaking all of the exercises below.


Vermeer's Lady writing a letter with her maid (1670); nowadays, the relative ease and speed of written communication have resulted in a move towards plainer, less formal structures, including simpler, shorter sentences. But we know from looking at the text of the great writers that redundancy has always been intuitively avoided in good writing, even when more elaborate sentence structures were common.


Removing one or two words[edit]

A[edit]

This question rarely arises outside of the soccer league.



B[edit]

The field trips identified potential hot-spots in typical rolling mills, and the researchers have made some initial contacts with companies to gain permission for trials of their new cooling system.



C[edit]

The B41 gold-nib fountain pen was originally released in 1966 and is still in production today.



D[edit]

The coastal region is an exception and it enjoys a flourishing tourist industry.



E[edit]

Longer tonicisations may also include other secondary chords.



F[edit]

This involves the provision of a reference section, complemented by inline citations for quotations and any material that is likely to be challenged.



G[edit]

Cystic fibrosis is a common hereditary genetic disorder that affects many different parts of the body.


H[edit]

This relationship had already existed before Adobe purchased the company.



I[edit]

Although Ottawa is one of the Ojibwe dialects that has undergone the most linguistic change, it is still mutually intelligible with other dialects.



How did you go in those two sets of exercises? Remember that you're trying to train your eyes and mind to be like a radar, asking whether removing each individual word will change the meaning. With practice, this will become automatic.

Redundancy renovations (1)[edit]

Replacement wording may be required, but just do it in your head—no typing please!


A[edit]

These findings posed a great number of problems.



B[edit]

Recent analyses of available historical records show why the European settlement of Greenland failed.



C[edit]

After the punch-up at the grand final, the NCAA took measures to prevent major brawls from happening again.



D[edit]

In the year of 1988, there were renewed efforts to boost the government's popularity.



E[edit]

These aspects serve to distort what would otherwise be some of the attractive elements of the architecture, such as its structure and envelope.


Redundancy renovations (2)[edit]

A[edit]

As a result of making such decisions, poker players are able to maximise their odds and win more money.


B[edit]

More than 300 million Led Zeppelin albums have been sold worldwide, including 109.5 million sales in the US alone.


C[edit]

Apart from the poets mentioned in the Kavirajamarga, later Kannada writers have referred to three poets as being eminent among their predecessors.



D[edit]

Due to problems with some of the more novel features of Bulleid's design, all members of the class were subsequently rebuilt by British Railways during the late 1950s, losing their air-smoothed casings in the process. A third of the class avoided the scrapper, and they can be seen on heritage railways throughout Great Britain.


E[edit]

He contributed to research that led to the finding of a cure for malaria.



Further difficult exercises[edit]

These examples will require varying amounts of recasting in your head.


A[edit]

The end of ship-building—the result of a factional struggle in the Chinese court—had an enduring effect throughout the subsequent existence of imperial China.


B[edit]

The majority of critics gave the film negative reviews.



C[edit]

The territory's path of evolution has been a challenge for the government.



D[edit]

Sport is a compulsory activity for all students; teams usually have training two times a week.



E[edit]

During a complex history, four local communities have tried to become the capital over the years.



The longest geographical name in the UK: I switch off after the first three syllables. Removing redundant words may stop your sentences from feeling like this.

Longer examples[edit]

Redundancy occurs not only because your intended meaning is already conveyed by other words in the sentence; the wider context you've established in the text can make wording redundant. Picking out redundant wording from longer windows of text brings us closer to the actual editing experience on Wikipedia.

At the end of each "problem", we tell you how many incidences of redundancy the text contains. See if you can mentally tick them off as you read through, before hitting the Show Hint button to reveal the general location of each redundancy.


A[edit]

The eye of a storm is a region of mostly calm weather found at the centre of a tropical cyclone. Typically 30–65 km in diameter, the eye is surrounded by the eyewall, where the most severe weather of a cyclone occurs. A cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye, and can be as much as 15% below the atmospheric pressure outside of the storm. The distance between the centre of the eye and eyewall defines the radius of maximum wind for a tropical cyclone. [Five incidences of redundancy]'



B[edit]

Coronation Street is Britain's longest-running television soap opera, first broadcast on Friday 9 December 1960 in the Granada region of ITV. The program has consistently been the most highly rated program on British television. Since its launch, Coronation Street has been broadcast in many countries worldwide, including Canada, Australia, Belgium and Holland, and has also been translated into five languages. Its storylines have covered diverse topics and themes, including death, marriage, divorce and murder. [Five incidences of redundancy]



C[edit]

After a recommendation from Dutch admirals saying that the Koninklijke Marine should be bolstered, the Minister of Defence ordered the Navy to prepare designs for a battlecruiser class. A preliminary plan by Dutch designers was completed in July 1939, but as they had never designed any sort of modern capital ship (the battleships of 1913 having been of foreign design), the plans did not reflect any of the advances in warship design that had come about after the First World War; in particular, the armour protection was totally outmoded. [Five incidences of redundancy]


See also[edit]

  • The Cut the clutter list – a useful list of fluffy groups and phrases. I haven't checked out the rest of their site, which is affiliated with The New York Times, a good sign. Beware its potential as a commercial hook to funnel you towards pay-sites.
  • Jprof, for teaching journalism – looks ok, but remember that journalism is quite a different register from that required in Wikipedia articles and research text. Again, it's a teaser to draw you into forking out money.
  • David McMurray's examples – front page worth reading through.
  • Oh, how flattering – here's a google-powered site that links to this Wikipedia page; the "Word doc" just below that link is worth downloading.
  • Writing concise sentences – another list of flabby-turned-concise examples.