Punctuation Is a Sign of Respect

WRITTEN December 18, 2011 Author: Rich Atkins

Punctuation provides structure and organization to the written language you use.

Has your smartphone gotten you into bad habits where it comes to punctuation?

If the answer is yes, then your reader can think one of two things:

The writer doesn’t know any better, and this is the best s/he could do; or
The writer does know better, and doesn’t care.
Show your audience that you care (and are smart) by punctuating correctly. Here are some punctuation reminders that you may have forgotten or not known:

Periods (.)

indicate abbreviations – a.m., p.m., Mrs., Dr. (Exceptions: Ms, USA)

Commas (,)

separate adjectives describing the same noun – She is a sincere, faithful friend. (Except when the adjectives can’t be rearranged: He wore a dark silk suit.)
prevent misreading – Before testing the boiler was dismantled. (Does that say, “Before testing the boiler…”? No, it’s supposed to be, “Before testing, the boiler was dismantled.”)

Apostrophes (’)

-show possession – Andy’s office, Jessica’s computer
-form contractions (letters are missing) – Did + not = didn’t; It + is = it’s; O’clock = literally, of the clock; Isn’t = is not
-form plurals of letters and signs
Letters: Mississippi has four s’s and i’s.
Signs: How many +’s are in this email?

NOTE: Do not use apostrophes for:

Numbers – 1990s
Abbreviations – Ph.D.s, BAs


This information is from the Effective Business Writing class. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of the public classes we offer. Click for more information.

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