The American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in 1841 that ‘a foolish ­consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’. In 1923, U.S. newspaper editor William Allen White delivered a similar opinion: ‘Consistency is a paste jewel that only cheap men cherish’. Now, Emerson and White were talking about consistency of opinion: if you change your mind, say so; there is no virtue in keeping to the same view if new facts come to light. However the sentiments they express are to some degree applicable to an insistence on consistency when editing and revising. We need to ask whether consistency is always necessary, and how much effort revisers and editors should put into increasing the degree of consistency in a text. Creating consistency is a purely mechanical task that requires little thought, yet gives a feeling of accomplishment. As a result, some editors and revisers are tempted to devote considerable time to this task.