Understanding punctuation is essential for being a successful writer of any kind and in any profession. It properly describes the inflection intended in any sort of script. Sometimes it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to interpretation, which is huge in writing since it's the biggest risk we run.
Work emails often ignite uncertainties on this subject — what punctuation is appropriate to use, and when? Here are a couple of tidbits that will be helpful when crafting your emails to fellow employees.
1. Don't Be Scared of an Exclamation Mark
The best times to use them are in a greeting, in a sign-off, and most especially in a "thank you!" However, too many can be distracting or come across less serious. Still, being friendly, happy, or showing gratitude more often than not will play in your favor. Especially when asking something more controversial or touchy, using an exclamation point in your sign-off gives an upbeat vibe. This will stay with the reader as the last thing they see, so odds are they will respond with that same voice. However, if you don't speak in that voice in general, no need. Always do what you are comfortable with.
2. Know the Basics
Capitalize when appropriate, add commas when necessary, and use periods at the ends of your sentences. Also, keep in mind that when you are explaining something that is on the difficult side or more detailed, ensure that you use those commas, colons, and semi-colons to your advantage (and make sure you know the difference).
3. Use Spaces
Using spaces makes emails easier to read and since we sometimes have hundreds to go through in a day, it is best to keep it simple and make the most important points stand out by separating thoughts by spacing paragraphs. Also, bullet points can be helpful! An easy visual for the recipient is always appreciated.
4. Know Your Audience
Other things to keep in mind: don't get offended! Not everyone sounds friendly via email but that doesn't mean that they aren't speaking in a friendly voice. Also, know your audience — no one knows the tone, formality, or dialogue of your company, customers, or branding better than you do.