Is your copywriting consistent?

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When writing copy – whether for your website, company newsletter, blog or printed material such as a brochure or flyer – you should try and keep your copywriting consistent.

As a copywriter, I often get asked specific questions about grammar. In most cases, there is a clear right or wrong, as on the whole grammar follows set rules. There are exceptions – you could argue that both goat’s cheese and goats’ cheese are correct, for example.

Consistency in copywriting

However, there are many other areas of copywriting that allow for more divergence – and this is where consistency comes into play. For example, if you choose to use upper case for job titles, you should stick to this all the way through your writing.

This may seem pedantic, but, as with many areas of copywriting, consistency gives a more professional look to your copy.

Examples of different styles within copywriting

Here are a few examples where it is helpful to decide on a style and stick to it:

  1. Job titles: may be written as upper case (Managing Director) or lower case (managing director). One national newspaper I worked on required upper case for the person doing the job, but lower case for the job itself:“The Prime Minister David Cameron said…”
    but
    “David Cameron is the UK’s current prime minister…”
  1. Numbers: in copy these are usually written out from one to nine, then written as figures from 10 upwards. However, with a website or brochure with lots of numbers you may prefer to only use figures.
  1. Ampersand: the ampersand is the symbol ‘&’ used to shorten the word ‘and’. I often come across companies that have an ampersand in their name, ie JH Smith & Sons, who then write the name out as JH Smith and Sons in a different part of their website copy.
  1. Full stops: yes, we expect to see them at the end of a sentence (!), but they are often used to separate letters when words have been shortened. Here are some examples:

J.H. Smith
i.e.
e.g.
sq. ft.

My personal preference is not to use them as I think it looks neater without, but it really is a question of preference rather than right or wrong. Again, make a choice and stick to it throughout.

  1. Historic events: all of these are correct but it can look messy if you swap between them in your copy:

First World War
first world war
World War One
World War I
WWI

Consistency of copywriting style

Consistency of style is also important in other aspects of copywriting, such as the tone and complexity of language you choose to use.

Once you have established who your audience is, you should try to keep the tone of your copy consistent throughout. When writing copy for clients, I will spend some time finding out about their customers and then adapt the tone and content to suit. I wouldn’t use the same writing style for a firm of accountants as I would for a manufacturing company or an online furniture company.

So before you start writing copy for your website or marketing material, jot down some ideas about your ideal customer: who they are and what sort of language will appeal to them, whether it’s professional, technical, warm, friendly or even humorous.

Once you have established your tone, stick to it throughout – remember, consistency is key.

If you would like advice on any of your copywriting needs, contact michelle@key-words.co.uk or call 01484 430 228.

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