When it comes to business writing, there many factors that can make or break it. One of those factors is consistency. Sadly, while consistency is one of the fundamentals of business writing, many still overlook it.
‘Why is consistency important?”
Consistency is important because you must achieve engagement and impact with your writing. An inconsistent piece of document can hardly do either.
Inconsistency may also distract your readers as they read the document. When they see an irregularity, their brain will automatically try to decipher if it signifies something different, important, or simply bad writing practice.
Consistency also makes a document look more professional. In a business environment, looking more professional is certainly the way to go. To help you out, we provide a list below containing four writing elements that deserve special attention when it comes to consistency.
Consistency in Spelling and Grammar
Are you writing in American or British English? When you’ve made your choice, then everything must be spelled according to your chosen style. Be careful about mixing these two styles.
To check if your spelling and grammar are consistent, you can check your writing on the online spelling and grammar checker. The tool will highlight and correct any misspelled words easily.
Consistency in Writing Dates
There’s no single correct way to write dates. As long as you’re consistent, you’re good. Some of the styles you can use are:
- 1st January 2020
- 1 January 2020
- 1 January, 2020
- January 1, 2020
- January 1st, 2020
If you dislike using too many commas, then the first two are the obvious choices. For the latter three, you will need to use another comma after the year to make a sentence correct, like this:
- On January 1st, 2020, the aliens visited earth for the first time.
Consistency in Writing Capitalizations
Consistent capitalization structure across your business document helps keeping the document look organized.
Take a look at the headers you just wrote. Are you capitalizing every word in there except for the adjectives? Good for you. Make sure all the headers are following that structure.
Now, what about lists? If you have any lists, each item must also follow the same capitalization standard. For instance, when you’ve decided to capitalize a certain term. Keep doing so consistently throughout the document to make sure the document looks neat and professional.
Consistency in Writing Numbers
The basic rule is small numbers (one to ten) should be spelled out while large numbers should be written as numerals to save space. That said, numbers that begin a sentence are always spelled out like this:
- Two Boeing 737 MAX crashed in a span of less than a year. (Correct)
- 2 Boeing 737 MAX crashed in a span of less than a year. (Wrong
OK, that’s our short reminder on which part of your writing that you must ensure to be consistent. Here’s a tip to make your business writing more consistent: develop your own Individual Style Guide (ISG).
An ISG contains all of your preferred approach in business writing. The guide serves as your personal standard on the choice of words, style, grammar, and many more.