The secret to editorial consistency

Blog, On editing

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The secret to editorial consistency is no secret at all, it’s called an editorial style guide. Using a style guide is critical for those of you who are passionate about delivering award-winning content. The style guide will almost guarantee that your editor, copy-editor and even your proofreader will all deliver copy using the appropriate tone, punctuation, abbreviations and spelling for your publication.

More often than not I’m finding that publishers today don’t keep their style guide up-to-date and even worse, some publishers don’t have one at all. If your publishing house is after award-winning content, then working with a style guide is critical to your success.

A style guide clarifies things like:

  • whether your publication uses British or American English
  • how to spell commonly misspelt words
  • whether or not to use Oxford commas
  • how and when to abbreviate certain terms
  • when to captitalise words

And the list goes on.

Inconsistency is the single most distracting thing to a reader. Consistency ensures that your reader focusses on what you are saying, not on how it is being said. And it’s what makes your reader trust the credibility of your publication.

Every time I take on a new job, I either create my client’s style guide from scratch or update their existing one. If you need help creating a style guide, look out for my blog post next week.


Written by Melissa Fagan, freelance non-fiction editor

I help non-fiction publishers deliver award-winning content using a creative and flawless approach to editing. Internationally qualified non-fiction editor with 11 years’ publishing experience.

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If you need help creating an editorial style guide, let’s chat. Coffee’s on me. Contact me at or 082 5002612


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