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Why Proper Punctuation
Matters in Business

The deliberate and consistent use of proper punctuation is essential in all forms of business communications — from the mightiest multi-million-dollar contract proposal to the simplest customer e-mail reply. Our written communications reflect our level of professionalism — not education, but professionalism. How we present ourselves through the written word directly affects how people perceive us and whether or not they choose to do business with us.

The rules of proper punctuation haven’t changed just because we’ve entered the computer age. The casual communication short cuts of e-mail and text messaging have no place in professional business writing where words wield power and decision-makers form impressions immediately. Clarity and attention to detail are imperative; consistently careless punctuation mistakes and misuses cost time, money and productivity.

  • Style — Style is the way you present yourself to others — it’s the way you dress, the way you walk, the way you enter a room, the way you shake hands, the way you speak and the way you write. Writing style is the way you use words, grammar and punctuation; your writing style says a lot about your business style. What’s your style? Are you thoughtful, accurate and attentive to detail? Are you confident, strong and decisive? Or, are you sloppy and careless — either through ignorance or laziness? If your writing is sloppy and careless, what does that say about your business practices, products and services? Will clients and associates want to do business with someone who’s sloppy and lazy? If you don’t care about your words, why should they? People will choose to do business with people who make powerful and commanding impressions through the written word.
  • Professionalism — The use of proper punctuation in your written communications establishes positive environments for professional relationships with clients, colleagues, employees and supervisors. Clients and associates take you seriously and welcome opportunities to work with you when they see you can deliver your messages with power, clarity and precision. They equate your ability to communicate effectively with your ability to deliver your products and services with equal success.
  • Respect for the reader — You demonstrate respect for your readers when you write in a carefully-crafted, reader-friendly manner. Poorly punctuated copy confuses readers, and makes them work through convoluted sentences and unclear messages. That may cost you a client, a sale or a job. Your properly punctuated communications engage your readers and escort them through your communications, making them feel comfortable with you as a professional.
  • Clarity and accuracy — Properly placed commas, apostrophes and periods insure clear and thoughtful writing, and reduce the chances of misunderstanding and misinterpretation, which can lead to costly mistakes. Proper punctuation is particularly keen in proposals and contracts that involve finances, property and legal issues and responsibilities.
  • Significant to success — In some instances, written communications are your strongest or only opportunity to make your case — such as a purchase agreement, a binding contract, a grant request, a plea for financial support or a critical endorsement. In these cases, proper punctuation is significant to success, and is the tool that enhances and empowers your writing and moves you closer to that success.
  • Global audience — Today’s global economy opens business doors around the country and around the world, allowing professionals to conduct high-level negotiations and business activities without leaving the office or meeting face-to-face. In some cases, colleagues and clients may only know you through your writing. To be competitive and the vendor of choice, you need to present yourself in the most favorable light. Your written communications must be powerful, clear and success-oriented.
  • Position of power and confidence — Knowing the rules of grammar and punctuation and using them consistently in all written communications — from formal proposals to everyday e-mails — make you a strong, confident writer and communicator. Punctuation ignorance and carelessness translate into timid, weak and potentially disastrous communications. When your clients and associates find you engaging and trustworthy to read, they will most likely discover how engaging and trustworthy you are to work with, as well.
Contact Jeff Rubin for more information about punctuation
(510) 724-9507