June 15, 2017
Congratulations on your success
On Facebook today, one of the editors I know, Amy J. Schneider, posted about a habit that some writers have, namely adding a kind of reflexive "successfully" to their sentences. Here's an example, which I'm sure we've all seen variations of:
You haven't just logged off. You successfully logged off. (Thankfully, you didn't unsuccessfully log off.)
I see this all the time, and it bugs me pretty much every time. Just for yucks, I did a search for "successfully" in the documentation set I’m currently working on. I found 1473 instances; here are just a few:
… and on and on and on.
- Snapshot created successfully.
- Successfully logged into database.
- After you have successfully created the file, …
- Click the Check button to verity that the service can successfully connect to your job.
- To confirm that the volume was successfully taken offline, …
- After the device is successfully updated, it restarts.
- Make sure the test has successfully passed before you proceed.
I ask you: is the word successfully really necessary in any of these instances? I posit that it is not. Moreover, and since I apparently am dispositionally incapable of not doing this, I ask myself "Wait, is there an unsuccessful way for this to happen?"
I reckon I could do a global search-and-
destroyreplace on "successfully" in our documentation set without worrying that I would be changing the meaning of anything. (I'm not actually going to do this, just to be clear.) In fact, I'd be shaving nearly 20,000 characters out of the docs. Which is to say—of course—that I'd be shaving those characters successfully.