Section 3.2

Punctuation in Email

Like capitalization, punctuation carries meaning. Commas, periods, semicolons, and other marks indicate boundaries and relationships between ideas. If you leave out punctuation, the act of reading your email messages automatically becomes more difficult for recipients, who must figure out those boundaries and relationships for themselves. Courteous correspondents take care to make their readers as comfortable as possible; in doing so, they also ensure that greater attention is paid to the content itself.

Problems with punctuation extend beyond neglect of traditional punctuation to excessive use of certain types of punctuation. In business email, exclamation points, dashes, and ellipses have proliferated beyond the bounds of appropriateness. The following sections provide some cautionary notes on each.