How to Avoid Inconsistencies


What is Inconsistent Writing?

Imagine you have written three chapters of your novel, describing the main character as a nice person with pleasant manners and a positive background; and then, in the fourth chapter, this person suddenly acts completely opposite to what you have so thoroughly described so far. Such an illogical twist is an example of inconsistency—a typical flaw in writing, when an author breaks the inner logic of their writing, be it an academic assignment or story, article, and so on.

The main rule for consistency in writing is when you choose to write in a certain way, 99% of the time, you have to keep with this choice throughout a certain piece of writing.

How to Avoid Inconsistencies?

Inconsistency can manifest itself not only in described events or characters (besides, in this case, it can be an element of a storyline), but also in minor aspects of writing, which only few people pay attention to. Here are some of them:

- Time indicators. You can write 7am, 7AM, or 07:00; moreover, you can do it within one composition without noticing it. Make sure you use one indicator throughout your entire written work.

- The same refers to %, or “percent,” or “per cent.” This especially relates to business writing, where you have to use different formulas. Double-check your writing for being consistent in terms of special symbols and terminology you use.

- Abbreviations are another field where inconsistency is noticed often. Though you may see no real difference between using “the US,” “the USA,” or “the U.S.” in the same piece of writing, in fact it does matter, because such flaws break the flow of the text.

- Pay attention to dates; you must choose between using, for example, 60’s, or 1960’s, or even sixties. The same refers to the date format: DD/MM/YY, or MM/DD/YY, or YY/MM/DD, and so on.

- Hyphenation is another tricky aspect of consistency in writing. Co-operation and cooperation, co-ordinate or coordinate, under-achieve or underachieve, e-mail or email—these and other similar words require your attention. Choose how you spell a word and stick to this spelling throughout the entire composition.

- Quotation marks and parentheses are other objects you need to pay attention to. Mind how you write: ‘a’ or “a,” (a) or [a].


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