Meet Dixie and Clover. They’re consistent. Every day they each lay one perfect brown egg. There are no skipped days, no colour changes, and no differences in size. We always know what we’re getting, and it’s nice. But the benefits of consistency go way beyond the chicken coop—consistency is also vital in the workplace, in relationships, and even in your writing.
Imagine a document you’ve recently created. Did you ensure all your headings levels look the same? Did you use the same spelling style throughout (ex. American, Canadian, or British)? Did you use the serial (Oxford) comma or do you prefer to avoid a final comma before ‘and’? Did you hyphenate your compound words or close them up? Either way, be consistent. And what about the tone and voice of your piece? These should be consistent too. Creating consistent text takes work, but your audience will thank you for it.
Each time you start a document, it is vital that you begin by considering your audience. Knowing your audience helps determine whether your document will be formal or casual and guides which style rules will best benefit your reader. As well, if you are writing a document for a client, it is important to note whether they have specific rules for grammar, spelling, punctuation, headings, etc., and if they do, it is important you stick to them. A document that strictly adheres to a specific set of guidelines is easier to read and looks more professional than documents that use a new style on every page.
Overwhelmed by the thought of choosing a style? Here are some resources to help get you started:
- APA Style 7th Edition (https://apastyle.apa.org)
- Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition (https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org)
- AP Style Guide 55th Edition (https://www.apstylebook.com)
- Editing Canadian English 3rd Edition