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Before I was a copy editor, I worked in customer service for Broadman and Holman (now just B&H) Publishing Group–the book, Bible, and church supplies sector of LifeWay. I was a Universal Representative, which meant I took orders and did adjustments for errors. All day, every day, I spoke on the phone with bookstores wishing to order (or complain about) our products.
The other reps and I worked very closely in cubicles. So pretty much I could hear every conversation everyone else had, work-related or otherwise.
All of our products were listed by ISBN. You know, that long number above the bar code on the back of your books? When we took orders, we took them by ISBN.
My number one irritant in that office? Listening to other people ask for the “ISBN number.”
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. Thus, “ISBN number” is redundant.
Also falling under this heading of Common Acronyms People Screw Up by Adding a Word Afterward:
PIN number – PIN is personal identification number
Please RSVP – repondez s’il vous plait is French for “please respond”
ATM machine – ATM is automated teller machine
According to Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge, of course, this is actually called “RAS Syndrome“: ironically, Redundant Acronym Syndrome Syndrome. I find that fairly hilarious.
So please don’t say or write “PIN number.” That’s all. A little request.
Can you think of other examples? Is this something that bothers you or never occurred to you?
Reading Like a Writer: One of my favorite authors is Maeve Binchy. She is an Irish author and writes what I would call “contemporary fiction”–stories based on a set of characters, living out life in modern times, with twists and turns and romance, of course. To me, she is the queen of character development. I can see each character in my head and learn their hearts as they grow. If you’re interested in writing fiction–or even creative nonfiction–this is a crucial skill set.