Repetition in Business Writing

The Benefits of Repetition in Business Writing

Deliberate repetition is a creative-writing technique that can make your business correspondence more interesting to read.

Used occasionally, deliberate repetition can:
  • Be used for emphasis.
  • Be memorable.
  • Make an impact.
  • Make you look confident.
These are great benefits. However, as with all these creative techniques, there are a few dangers. If you want to spice up your writing with deliberate repetition, you must avoid:
  • Over-cooking. Over-cooking occurs when you make your point so strongly that your readers grow suspicious and start questioning it.
  • "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
    (From Hamlet by William Shakespeare, 15641616)
  • Redundancy. Redundancy occurs when you waste your readers' time by telling them what you've just told them and this overrides the "spice" sought with the repetition.
Read about avoiding redundancy.

How Do You Use Repetition in Business Writing?

There are three main ways to use deliberate repetition in business writing:
  • Anaphora. Anaphora is repetition at the starts of sentences:
  • "We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
    (Sir Winston Churchill)
    "The future's bright. The future's Orange."
    (Telecommunication company Orange's slogan)
  • Epiphora. Epiphora is repetition at the ends of sentences:
  • "He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it."
    "She's safe, just like I promised. She's all set to marry Norrington, just like she promised. And you get to die for her, just like you promised."
    (Jack Sparrow)
  • Commoratio. Commoratio is repeating an idea back to back, but with different words:
  • "It's not pinin'. It's passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolical processes are of interest only to historians! It's hopped the twig! It's shuffled off this mortal coil! It's run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This is an ex-parrot!"
    (Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch)
    "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."
    (From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, 19522001)

Examples of Repetition in Business Writing

Here are some business-style examples of deliberate repetition:
  • "It's the cheapest solution. It's within the company's control, and it's quick to implement."
  • (Anaphora)
  • "In our opinion, the answer to the current situation is not making 10 people redundant. All that achieves is making 10 people redundant."
  • (Epiphora)
  • "We have considered your solution and are impressed by its practicality. It looks very viable. Very viable indeed."
  • (Commoratio)
Generally, repetition in business writing is something to be avoided, but it's worth keeping these techniques in your back pocket as they can be an excellent way to emphasize something, to show confidence, and to make your writing more interesting.

See Also

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