When the committee writes a document . . .

. . . the result is often a variety of inconsistent spellings, grammar and punctuation. The same phrase can be written three different ways on the same page, sometimes with capitals, sometimes without. Hyphens pop up in words here and there, but not always. Generally, it’s a mess.

That’s why it’s a good idea to have an editor in overall charge of the document to set a policy on usage. If you have a formal written house style, that’s even better. You can give this to the authors before they start writing and can prevent these annoying inconsistencies from the start.

An independent proofreader can pick up many of these inconsistencies at the end, but it’s much better to prevent them in the first place so you don’t receive a PDF with hundreds of annotated comments or a Word file with hundreds of tracked changes for you to approve.

A formal house style can also improve your employees’ writing style by making them think about what they are writing.

Robert Zarywacz