JS Tip 428: The Rules III
From the Writing Workshops: The Rules III
We’ve been talking about the rules we learned in high school.
A Rule We Learned in High School: “You can’t repeat yourself.”
You can repeat yourself. In fact, effective repetition provides simplicity, clarity, and emphasis.
Effective repetition helps your reader maintain a frame of reference. Let's suppose you draft an environmental task:
- Sample the river water every four hours. Test the water for contaminants and send the water samples to the storage hut.
You used water three times in the same paragraph. The rule says you can’t do that. So you reluctantly follow the rule and rewrite the passage:
- Sample the river water every four hours. Test the liquid for contaminants and send the solution samples to the storage hut.
Wait a minute.
Will your reader—the person who has to do the task—understand the water, the liquid, and the solution samples are the same thing?
And will your reader have any doubts with the first example?
A simple answer to both questions: No.
Effective repetition provides simplicity, clarity, and emphasis. (And we just repeated ourselves.)
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