Learnership Management System

Writing Style: Consistency and Parallelism

Treat similar information in a similar manner. In high school, we often varied word choice or sentence structure because we were told it would be more interesting to our readers. Unfortunately, varying word choice can confuse your readers. Saying “accounting program” in one sentence and “accounting system” in another creates uncertainty about whether it’s a program or a system and implies that the two are different.

Similarly, varying sentence order (syntax), particularly to an order other than subject-verb-object, slows the reader down. In each new sentence, the reader must determine the subject, verb, and object to interpret the sentence. Two closely associated sentences that are structured differently are said to be not parallel.

Consistency and parallelism are broad rules that apply in a variety of contexts. Here are just a few:

    *When creating a bullet list, make sure all items are consistent (for example, if one is a complete sentence, they should all be).

    *When writing compound sentences with two complete thoughts, make sure they are either both active or both passive.

    *When naming objects, use the same name, written in the same way, over and over again—don’t be tempted to vary it to create ‘reader interest.’

    *When introducing procedures, introduce them in the same way.

    *When writing glossary definitions, write them in the same way.