A tautology — no, it’s not a mythical spell from Harry Potter or some sort of microorganism living in the depths of our oceans. It’s a writing technique that can determine whether what you’re saying sounds reliable and trustworthy.  

By Jade Sammons, senior account executive

According to the Oxford English dictionary, a tautology is a grammatical term that means saying the same thing twice in different words. While sometimes using a tautology is justified — to emphasise a point, convey importance or to add style and flair to text — often it is just needless repetition.

Look at these common phrases:

  • Repeat that again
  • Added bonus
  • Dilapidated ruins

When you think about it, both words in those examples mean almost exactly the same thing. You can’t repeat something that hasn’t been done before, a bonus is already an added item and it would be difficult to find ruins in good condition.

Tautologies are everywhere

There are plenty of examples in popular culture, particularly in songs. “I want to live while I’m alive” sung by Bon Jovi, “que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be”, by Doris Day, or even Run DMC’s “it’s like that and that’s the way it is.” In music, repetition can often make a song’s chorus more memorable. The difference is, in technical writing, the more clearly you can articulate your point the better.

Despite the benefits of concise content, it can be difficult to avoid tautologies – spotting them takes a keen eye and practise. The top tip we can offer is to read anything you write out loud and see whether you can simplify it.

Alternatively, you can speak to the team at Stone Junction, the technical and engineering writing experts who don’t make predictions about the future and work in close proximity to our clients. We produce meaningful, clear technical content, with your customer’s future in mind.

For more information on creating PR and marketing campaigns that change minds, get in touch with Stone Junction on 01785 225416 or e-mail us at

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