Writing Tip – Artful Repetition

What is Artful Repetition?

There are many forms of repetition, but for this article, we will be on the use of artful repetition to convey, empathize the central message, and information concepts.  With this in mind,  artful repetition is rephrasing, and representation of the main message throughout a written work helps the reader identify the main concept and essential support facts and concepts.

This form of reinforcing your message has a long history and can be traced history at least 2400 years.  This approach can be described as an enhancement on the ‘Aristotelian’ triptych, which is roughly summarized as:

  • Tell what you are going to say
  • Then, say it
  • Then, tell them what you said.

Why use artful repetition

There are many reasons to use artful repetition, here are some examples of valid reasons:

Help Audience Remember

  • The simple fact is that a major portion (likely a majority)  information people read and hear lost with 24 hours without additional reinforcement.

Mitigate Information Overload

  • In a world filled with information overload, most readers and audiences are forced to skip the details and go for the big concepts and main points.  Artful repetition increase opportunity for the audience to encounter important information and concepts.
  • Even an attentive audience can be distracted, forget information, or simply miss the information for multiple reasons.  Artful repetition gives another chance to catch important information and concepts.

Convey Important Information

  • Everybody likes and needs queues as to what is important amongst the mountains of details.  Just like in the classroom where the kindly teacher or professor would hint at something you should note for further future study.

Where to use Artful Repetition

To be effective, the main concept message should be used in a combination of positions.  Here is a general guideline for placement, which does not override the frequency guideline, so, chose carefully.

  • In the article description and preface (if these exist)
  • title (if possible)
  • early in the introduction
  • at key concept tie-out points in the body and chapter summaries
  • in illustrations, graphics, and charts
  • in the conclusion and last sentence

What should the frequency of Artful repetition be?

For most non-book length writing

As a general rule, artful repetition should be limited to three to five times within the article.   A single use in both the article description and the preface is used, would be supplemental to this guideline.

For Book Length Writing

For this purpose, book-length writing assumes a book of approximately 100 pages or more.  With book-length content, a little more liberal use can be appropriate, especially, in chapter summaries and illustrations.  However, doubling the guidance should be more than adequate.

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