5 punctuation traps to avoid at work

We grow up learning about spelling and punctuation in school, but mistakes still have the potential to creep up on us when we’re well into our working years. The next time you write an email, keep these on your radar.

We grow up learning about spelling and punctuation in school, but mistakes still have the potential to creep up on us when we’re well into our working years.

The next time you write an email, keep these on your radar.

Using too many exclamation points in emails

Don’t do this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Was that as tough for you to read as it was for me to write? Exactly.

While this is good to keep in mind when it comes to email subject lines, you should apply this rule to all business communication.

Letting apostrophes trip you up

Kristin Mateski, a marketing manager at publishing and printing company Walsworth, provides examples of “extraneous apostrophes” in an article on the site:

Examples to avoid: It is all your’s. Five dollar’s off!

How to Avoid: In these cases, you want the plural form of the word, so just add an ‘s.’ Add an apostrophe if you need the possessive form, such as, ‘That is my wife’s car.’

Apostrophes are also used for contractions, such as ‘shouldn’t’ for ‘should not.’ “

Using two commas here, two commas there …

Danny Rubin, author of the blog THE TEMPLATE and the book Wait, How Do I Write This Email? illustrates on the blog just how irritating it can be to read a sentence with an excessive amount of 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.”

Using em dashes the wrong way

Dr. Julia Porter, an educator and cultural competency expert writes in Reader’s Digest that a frequent punctuation mistake is “putting em dashes where they don’t belong:”

“Since we’ve all gotten used to communicating via text, email, etc., we are often working to write for emphasis. Thanks to this, the em dash has gotten more notoriety. Fun fact though, that’s really what it’s for. (For example: John couldn’t believe his luck­ — he won the lottery!) Basically, these guys go in the place of a colon to prove a point. However, a lot of people use them for other reasons, and in some instances, in place of commas. Learn about some punctuation marks you didn’t even know existed.

Not catching typos

We know you’re probably swamped with work, but if you take the time to actually read over your work messages before hitting “send,” you might just thank us later.

Everyone’s bound to make mistakes sometimes, but checking your work the old-fashioned way or using spelling tools can be a big help.

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.