Improve Your Writing: Making Your Styling Consistent

consistency-of-styling-email-course

free-email-course-for-content-creatorsToday we have officially started a challenge to improve our writing skills. It was something I absolutely needed to do myself – go over the lessons and practice – and some of the readers of my blog joined me which makes it even more fun.

If you want to take this challenge, too, you can use the form below this post, and you will receive 10 other complimentary lessons in your email, one by one. We’ll discuss for instance how to do research, the importance of an outline, grabbing readers’ attention, what’s more effective closure than summarizing and how to proofread like a pro.

And no strings attached!

This lesson isn’t inside the course, because I wanted to publish it here in the blog instead:

Making Your Styling Consistent

Consistency of styling your writing makes everything you write appear more professional. While most readers don’t pay much attention to good styling, almost everyone instantly notices inconsistency and with that you can lose a lot of credibility.

Here are some of the key points to pay attention to when styling your content:

Bullets

  • Check that the bullets match the pre-frame, for example if you start a bulleted list with “You’re about to learn …” then each bullet has to be readable and continue that sentence.

For example, “You’re about to learn…

— How to keep a consistent style with your bullets (works with the lead-in)
— Learn if you need a period at the end of your bullets (doesn’t work with lead-in)

  • Stay consistent with your bullets’ punctuation. Some lists end with periods while others have no punctuation at the end. Both styles are accepted, but make sure you stick to one or another.
  • Make sure the indentation and spacing of your bullets match throughout your document. Sometimes you may need to manually add a line break between bullets to add more spacing.
  • In a short document, all your bullet symbols should match.

Subheads

  • Subheads shouldn’t end with a period, colons or exclamation points.
  • Use your subheads to walk your reader through a story, or in fact an overview of the whole article.

Text and Page Styling

  • Make sure your line height, line spacing, font and text sizes are uniform throughout the page.
  • Double-check your font any time you copy and paste anything into a document. Often times’ unwanted formatting is copied along with the text.

Consistency in Spelling

  • Be careful of American vs. British spelling. Pick one and stick with it. Example: “color” vs. “colour”
  • Be consistent in your acronym use. Typically a good approach is to spell out the acronym in full the first time you use in, followed by the acronym in parenthesis. Then use just the acronym from there on. Don’t switch back and forth between full spelling and acronyms.
    For example, for the first appearance, write: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Then refer to the organization as just MADD from then on.

To learn

  • how to use various voices in your writing
  • how to evoke emotion with your readers
  • how to back up your ideas with compelling statistics and case studies
  • how to conduct better research
  • the best method for proofreading your content and
  • how to end your content with a bang

Sign up for this Free email course now!

23 Comments

  • ikechi

    Reply Reply January 5, 2015

    Hi Eve

    What a great challenge? I am glad that I joined this course. Thanks for sharing this awesome opportunity. Looking forward to more updates.

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 7, 2015

      You’re welcome! Let me know how you like the content will you!

  • Excellent reminder! Especially for writers who are querying agents, form is so important.

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 7, 2015

      Exactly! If they don’t get you, you don’t get them.

  • Donna Janke

    Reply Reply January 6, 2015

    Great reminders. One of the bigger challenges for me is Canadian spelling vs American spelling. (Canadian spelling is different than both British and American – in most cases it is closer to British with the use of colour vs color but in other ways it matches American with organize instead of organise.) I am a Canadian. When I first started blogging most of my readers were Canadian. I made a conscious decision to use Canadian spelling. But I have spent the last three winters in the U.S. and many of my readers are now American. I am exposed more and more to American spelling, so I suspect some inconsistencies have crept in. In terms of my fiction, I change spelling in entire stories based on what publishers I submit to – U.S. or Canadian based.

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 7, 2015

      Yep, the most important thing is to keep the reader in mind.

  • Michele Harvey

    Reply Reply January 6, 2015

    It is true that consistency with regard to format, tense, font, spelling and acroynms is of paramount importance for a well-written article. Thank you for these great tips and reminders.

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 7, 2015

      Thanks Michele!

  • andleeb

    Reply Reply January 6, 2015

    I have entered my name for free course. Lets see what I will learn at the end. But I am still bit confused that how come any such help can be all free?

    This post is very important I have learnt a lot from this too.
    Appearance, spelling all matter.

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 7, 2015

      I was lucky to find a good course and I just wanted to share the fun. Glad I can help!

      • andleeb

        January 8, 2015

        Much Appreciated

  • Sarah Pickup

    Reply Reply January 7, 2015

    I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing – thanks for the great tips Eve!

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 7, 2015

      You’re welcome Sarah!

  • Jeri

    Reply Reply January 7, 2015

    What a great idea for a course for those seeking to consciously improve on their styling. I just finished critiquing my first manuscript written by an English author. He wanted me to Americanize the spellings, but keep the British flavor of some of the terms uses. It was a great experience that I have learned a lot from.

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 7, 2015

      I can imagine!

  • Lenie

    Reply Reply January 7, 2015

    After reading this I am going to go through some of my past posts and see where I failed to measure up. This is great Eve. Thanks.

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 7, 2015

      What’s not mentioned here is that after all you’re writing to the readers, not the critics :)

  • Andy

    Reply Reply January 9, 2015

    It’s not always possible for the line-height to be uniform throughout the page, particularly if the text contains inline images, superscripts, or subscripts; however, readers should cut you some slack for this sort of thing.

    As for the copying unwanted formatting problem, one way to avoid this is to compose your content in a plain text editor like Notepad (vis-à-vis a word processor like Microsoft Word – you conspicuously do not say anything about writing tools) and stylize afterward once you are satisfied with the content.

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 10, 2015

      You’re so right Andy!
      Web layouts kinda have a will of their own and sometimes it’s impossible to make it look visually pleasing in every browser. I hate when that happens, but have to accept it…

      I also hate Notepad myself. Maybe that’s why I didn’t even remember the whole thing. (And some tools are mentioned in other articles regarding this course, btw)

      I usually write the first draft with Word (or Open Office, I use both), but I usually edit a lot once I’ve copy-pasted it to my blog. To ditch the unwanted formatting, I simply paste my text to ‘html’ instead of ‘visual’ box.

  • Erica

    Reply Reply January 13, 2015

    Thank you for the great tips! My favorite was your tip about keeping consistent with punctuation when doing bullets. I am so guilty of that one. I’m often amazed when proofreading my work that I have such inconsistent punctuation. I’m usually good about fixing it before my blog “goes to press”, but I totally have to laugh at myself for my foibles.

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 13, 2015

      Thanks for visiting Erica! Same here, punctuation issues, only I keep slipping those to the public version all the time and fix afterwards. How dumb is that, so much excess work that could be avoided by actually proofreading before sending.
      Well, I’m going to do better in the future, after this challenge!

  • This sounds like a reat course. It’s always a good idea to work on your writing, something I neve think to do. Thanks for the reminder Eveliina :)

    • Eveliina

      Reply Reply January 14, 2015

      Thanks Christine!

Leave A Response To Eveliina Cancel reply

* Denotes Required Field