Why You Should Insist on Consistency

There are many varied ways in which you can approach style, grammar and tone when writing original travel web copy. Yet what matters most is not how you choose to write content, but that you always write with consistency.

For writers and editors alike, consistency shows your attention to detail, and is a vital way in which to present a unified and cohesive voice across a number of different topics. Writing is not unlike a bread dough: without good consistency, it all falls apart. So how do you ensure consistency throughout an article, a website or even an entire publication? We have outlined some of the most important reasons for consistency, and how to achieve it, below.

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Building a brand
Although talking about brand building can feel as though you’ve slipped into a buzz-word heavy episode of The Apprentice, it’s an important element of content creation. Essentially, all it means is that readers and customers know what to expect when turning to your publication for content. Consistency is one of the quickest and most effective ways to building a reputation; if readers know they will find the same voice and same style across all of your content, they will have an impression of dependability. Think about the opposite – if the grammar and tone changes repeatedly within the same outlet, then the overall voice comes across as unprofessional and confused.

Dig into the detail
Often consistency comes down to the nitty-gritty details of copy; a meticulous eye is needed to make sure that the same approach is applied to all grammatical quirks and punctuation problems. Measurements play a big role in consistency; are distances listed in miles, kilometres or both? This is a seemingly insignificant distinction, but it’s essential that each piece of information is presented in the same way.

Similarly, keep an eye out for abbreviations – writers should know in advance if everything should be fully written out, or if long titles can be abbreviated (e.g. Department for International Development or DFID).

Always establish in advance whether an article is to be written in American or British English. In a global world, it isn’t always easy to distinguish between these two, but you can be sure that any errors will be picked by at least one eagle-eyed reader. Once you have decided on your form of English, stick to it – inconsistency will infuriate.

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Shape your style
Consistency is about far more than just ensuring you use the same grammatical and punctuation rules within an article. Readers like familiarity and authenticity when visiting websites, so a consistency of tone is essential, especially when several writers are contributing to one publication.

In order to do this, websites and magazines need to establish their demographic and decide on a style that best suits that readership. For instance, a website dedicated to youth hostels will be striking entirely the wrong note with formal writing discussing the most expensive jewellery shops in a city. Similarly, serious news outlets offering editorials on geopolitical crises should avoid the cheery voice of mates sharing their opinions over a pint.

Such distinctions may seem obvious, but every editor and writer should think in detail about who their target audience is and how that reflects in the voice of their brand.

How to maintain consistency
It’s pretty clear that consistency is a key way to build your online rep, so the question for content creators is how. This is where style guides come in. Editors need to think carefully about the style guide they will craft for their outlet, developing a voice and tone that will suit the aims of their website or magazine.

Writers then need to live by these guides. Make a note of the peculiarities of the particular guide you are working on, and learn particular details off by heart. The better you know a style guide, the easier it will be to find errors when proofreading your copy.

Simple tricks like using the ‘find and replace’ function on your word processor will help to iron out the grammatical quirks, while spellcheck settings should help you find the more obvious errors in your writing. However, the most important aspect of consistency is finding and learning the voice that is required for each individual commission.

Read some of the recent projects by World Words to see how our expert writers have adapted to the different voices of different clients. Then connect with us on Twitter for updates on our new writing and content advice.

Image credits: artisan bread dough, CC image courtesy of Stacy Spensley, via Flickr. Ruler, CC image courtesy of Scott Akerman, via Flickr.

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