Redundant Acronym Phrases (RAP) Project

2011-4 parrot in Strasbourg
Nandy Parakeet by J. Patrick Fischer (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes you can find useful technical communication information in the most unlikely places. The RAP Project is hidden in the Nandy Conure Page website. Birders will know that a nanday conure is a beautiful medium-small mostly green Neotropical parrot (also known as the black-hooded parakeet). This website has a gallery of fan pages devoted to individual birds in addition to FAQ and a forum for nandy conure lovers.

The Nandy website also provides links to other items of interest to nandy conure lovers and an odd assortment of helpful resources such as:

  • A page which will automatically Balance Chemical Equations and calculate product/reactant mass relationships for you.
  • A Vegetarian Cookbook and message board.
  • A page to help technical writers and editors avoid the redundant acronym phrase (RAP) syndrome. is the official home of the Redundant Acronym Phrase (RAP) project.

A RAP is a phrase containing an acronym plus a word or phrase such that, when the acronym is expanded, the phrase would contain a redundancy. This is best illustrated by an example: ATM machine. ATM is an acronym for automated teller machine. Thus, ATM machine really means automated teller machine machine.

Clearing redundant acronym phrases from your writing will help with translations of your writing and will improve accessibility when screen readers read the full spelled out meaning of an acronym for visually disabled users who would be puzzled hearing "machine machine".

See the Redundant Acronym Phrases (RAP) Project page for a complete current list of phrases in the project.

You are invited to suggest more possible redundant acronym phrases (must be actually used—not made up) using the contact form at

Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words

Photo of a page in an IKEA instruction manual that uses no words--only drawings--for how to assemble a bookshelf.
IKEA picture instructions.

I love IKEA.  Do you know one of the things I love most about IKEA? Their instructions. They are universal and easy to understand. This $10 billion dollar company has nailed one of the factors that I think contributes to their success: Simplicity. This Scandinavian company located in 38 countries primarily uses pictures in their instructions, and these pictures rival the artwork of most ten-year-olds. The instructions are surprisingly straightforward and universal, so everyone from the astrophysicist to the 18-year-old college freshman can follow them with little-to-no trouble.

How important is simplicity in communication? Very. Taking a page out of IKEA’s book, the short and direct approach, which in their case includes pictures, is key.  (On a side note, I find this approach key when it comes to explaining to my husband how to properly separate clothes before he washes them, but I digress.)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, learn from IKEA and make sure you can communicate a comprehensible message to the widest-possible audience.

Talk Like Shakespeare Day—23 April

Bring out your inner Bard.

In recognition of Shakespeare’s 445th Birthday, this Thursday, April 23, 2009, will be Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Shakespeare is a part of our everyday lives. He coined more than 1,700 words still in use in modern English and his plays influence the way we think about the world we live in. Get in on the act! We hope you will send us your own "Shakespeariences" and visit often for new content!!

Twitter like Shakespeare

A live feed straight from the Bard! Message any modern phrase to “ShakespeareSays” on Twitter, and he’ll post it on what it would have sounded like four hundred years ago.