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How can you ensure your entire web site’s content is consistent? This takes special significance if you’re content is developed by more than one person. Being consistent is one of keys to making your writing exceptional.
My first suggestion for you is to use a style sheet. A style sheet is simply a list of words and phrases that you add to. You start with a big sheet of paper divided into eight boxes: ABCD, EFGH, IJKL, MNOP, QRST, UVWXYZ, Numbers, and Names.
Then every time you use a word that has more than one acceptable style you add word to appropriate box. For example, if you decide on e-Commerce as form (which could be equally written as eCommerce or E-Commerce) add phrase to EFGH box on your style sheet. Then every time you go to use word you check first against your style sheet, rather than looking back through earlier web pages you have written to see how you spelt it.
Over time your style sheet will build up to point where you need a page for each box. But style sheet allows you to have a single, easy to refer to place where you list all words and phrases that you need to use consistently.
The style sheet also becomes an especially valuable resource when changes need to be made to your web site.
My second suggestion is to have a few rules to follow that allow you to avoid your weaknesses. For instance I have a problem in that I waffle. When I do this my sentences can easily run and run. So one rule I have is that no sentence can be more than thirty words long. Another problem I have is that I tend to use stale, stuffy phrases instead of simple words. So another rule in my edit list is to check to ensure I use simple language.
And above all ‘What’s in it for them?’. What I mean is I try to focus on visitor to my web site and write language from their perspective, needs and focus.
In proofreading following helps:
Let it sit: Never proofread just after writing. You’re too close to your words and your ego needs time away from text in order to evaluate it subjectively.
Read it aloud: This gives a new perspective. As you hear words you can better gauge sentence length and how your words will sound to someone else.
Exchange it with a colleague: Perhaps risky but a guaranteed way to improve. Give your text to someone you respect and trust. Ask for their feedback.
Read it backwards, from bottom to top: Reading backwards allows you to pick up typos, repetitions, and other mechanical errors. You will read actual words written, not what you meant to write.
Use reference materials: Even professional writers use dictionaries, punctuation handbooks and spelling guides.
Finally, after you’ve carefully proofread your document ask:
Have I accomplished my original purpose in writing?
Did I tell reader what I want?
I really hope this has given you some ideas to achieve quality content.
Grant McNamara has over 20 years experience in IT, and specializes in multi-lingual web site and software development and training. Visit his site for free advice and resources for the success of your web site at: http://www.translateme.co.nz or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org