Step 4: Check for consistency

Consistency is critical. Be consistent in your use of terms, acronyms, abbreviations, and formats. Consistency aids comprehension, making it easier for readers to understand where to find and how to interpret complex information. Business communications are not the place for writers to exercise creativity.

cosistency3

Guidelines

Follow these guidelines for achieving consistency:

  • Decide on the terms you want to use, and apply them consistently. For example, and "illustration" should not later be called a "graphic."
  • Decide on a standard way to present each type of information. For example, every procedure should follow the same format. 
  • Once you have defined an acronym, continue to use that acronym. For example, after introducing “Department of Energy (DOE),” use “DOE” throughout your document.
  • If you have typically presented a certain type of information in a table format, do not later present that same information as a graph simply to add variety.

TIP!

Varying your terminology may be desirable in creative writing, but in business communications aim for consistency so readers won't become confused.

Ask these questions:

  • Have you clearly defined terms, acronyms, and abbreviations and used them consistently? 
  • Have you presented Information Types in a consistent format?