October 22, 2018 10:22 am
As writers and editors, we live in perpetual dread of errors, typos and inconsistencies appearing in our copy. After all, this is our business. We’re meant to be professional.
We’ve written about this before: Pragmatism and clarity should always come before consistency.
It’s just sometimes hard when you see inconsistencies in your copy. Or at least things that readers and clients take to be inconsistencies. Think of it as a kind of mild grammar anxiety.
So if we’ve talked about this before, why bring it up again?
Well, two reasons. First, because it’s advice to last the ages and never gets old.
Second, at Collective Content we are blessed to have a number of cybersecurity clients. We write a lot about cyberthreats, cyber risks, cyberattacks and cyber resilience.
See the problem?
How do we apply this to writing about cybersecurity? Or cyber security? Or even cyber-security?
The general rule of thumb we use is that if the phrase is in common usage then one word is better than two. So cyberattack, cybercrime and cybersecurity are always one word.
If the phrase is less common, then we split it in two to avoid the reader stumbling over it. Think cyberintelligence.
Another general rule is that when the first letter of the second word is ‘r’ (e.g. cyber resilience and cyber risk), we use two words, otherwise it just looks weird (cyberresilience and cyberrisk).
We’re not big fans of hyphenated words. Full stop. Or period.
Remember clarity and legibility are more important than consistency. We want to get the message across clearly without the reader stumbling across new words in an ever-evolving language.
I just felt compelled to explain this rule to a client and it made me feel a whole lot better. I thought sharing it with a wider audience might help spread the love even more.
So if you see these little ‘inconsistencies’, just know there is method behind the madness.
I hope this was as cathartic for you as it was for me.
(Ed: Don’t get me started on do’s and don’ts.)