Common concerns with using punctuation
Students often ask questions about the use of punctuation in the address and greeting of the letter in the writing task:
- Should I put a comma at the end of each line of the address?
- Is it correct to put a comma at the end of the greeting? [as in example 1 above]
- Should I put a full stop after a person’s title? [as in example 1 above]
- Do I need a comma after Yours sincerely/faithfully?
The answer is that putting a comma or a full stop in each of these situations is acceptable. Not putting a comma or a full stop is also acceptable. Time has changed the way we use punctuation. In effect, we have become lazier: omitting punctuation which was standard in the past.
This means, if you add the punctuation in the situations given above, or if you don’t, you will have used equally acceptable English.
It’s understandable why students become very concerned about little things like correct punctuation. It’s good to remember though that it forms only 1 of 6 assessment criteria. Therefore, it shouldn’t be given more weight in your preparation than more important things such as the structure and content of the letter.