Punctuation is so boring, right? Who cares about those pesky commas, periods and exclamation points?
In the business world, they matter. A lot.
Sloppy punctuation can undercut your intelligence and make people question your ability. Sad but true.
Here are eight punctuation mistakes to avoid. Your reputation will thank you!
1. Run-on sentences
The first punctuation mistake on our list occurs when there’s no punctuation at all because the sentence keeps going when the writer should add a period but instead continues on and there’s no end to the line and the reader is worn out but there’s no period in sight so when does it all end?
Whew. See what I mean?
The first punctuation mistake on our list occurs when there’s no punctuation at all. The sentence keeps going when the writer should add a period. Otherwise, the reader is worn out, but there’s no period in sight. When does it all end?
Read your sentence aloud. Does it feel like you go on too long? If so, add a period or two to break up different thoughts/ideas.
2. Way too many commas
A sentence with too many commas, makes our writing hard to process, because we include unnatural stops in the flow of a thought, and it’s frustrating, for the reader.
Wasn’t that last sentence annoying?
There’s no easy answer for reducing comma usage. The best course of action is to read your work aloud and look for places where a comma causes an unnecessary pause.
3. Double exclamation points
Double exclamations have no place in a work email. I make no apologies for that rule.
There’s a difference between energetic and overkill, and it happens somewhere between ! and !!
If you’re on gchat or talking to a friend through gmail, go nuts!!!
But when it comes to work, the double exclamation is double trouble. You need people to feel comfortable using you or you firm. If you drop !! everywhere, it could be seen as a red flag.
4. Ugly hyphens
I think there’s a clean way to use hyphens and an ugly way.
The unsightly approach?
Lesson 1- Introductions
The hyphen right up against the “1” looks sloppy.
In my opinion, there are two ways to improve “Lesson 1- Introductions.”
1. “Lesson 1 – Introductions”
2. “Lesson 1: Introductions”
Option #1 is a dash with space on either side.
Option #2 is a colon. Both choices look better than “Lesson 1-” because they’re more orderly.
Whenever you need to separate words for emphasis (ex: in a bulleted list or main title), look out for the misplaced hyphen and make the correction.
You need a strong relationship with a business associate before you start including smiley faces, “prayer hands” and whatever else.
For email introductions and other business correspondence, emojis are a no-go.
6. ALL CAPS
Emails in all caps FEEL LIKE THE WRITER IS SCREAMING AT YOU.
Unclick caps lock, start over and write sentences with normal capitalization.
7. The contraction “y’all”
As in, a hybrid of “you” and “all.” For example, “Great seeing y’all at the conference!”
Why no “y’all”? It’s too casual and colloquial. Avoid it and go with something like, “Great seeing your team at the conference.”
8. Two spaces after a period
Writing emails or other online content calls for one space after a period. Two spaces over and over throughout a blog post or website content will drive readers crazy. I mean, crazy.
One space and you’re done. Every time.
What punctuation rules did I miss? Comment below!