Month: January 2018

Consistency matters in business writing: developing an Individual Style Guide

Consistency is one of the most important principles in business writing.

As I said in another blog, not Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ‘foolish consistency … the hobgoblin of little minds’, but sensible, pragmatic consistency which avoids upsetting sticklers and distracting non-sticklers among your audience.

Consistency of structure (format) is essential to the impact and effectiveness of business writing; yet is often overlooked. You need to find a way to remind you what formatting elements to use for different types of content, delivering flawless consistency along the way.

Not to mention traditional elements of style, word choices, or problems of any description where you need help remembering the solution.

One of the best ways to achieve these things – and embed a consistent approach to style and formatting in all your business writing – is to develop an Individual Style Guide.

Style Corner: List Punctuation

A message I try to hammer home to my students is the need for consistency in business writing.

Not ‘foolish consistency… the hobgoblin of little minds’ as Ralph Waldo Emerson had it, but sensible, pragmatic consistency which avoids annoying or disengaging your reader to the point where they ‘swipe left’ on your content.

This applies to layout as much as – or more than – any other aspect of business writing.

One area where writers are often guilty of layout inconsistency is the punctuation of lists; across different lists in the same piece, or sometimes even within a single list.

It’s unnecessary, messy and unprofessional.