Copywriting Grammar: Punctuation

Copywriting Grammar: Punctuation


Punctuation is a relatively broad subject, so I’ll focus on some of the more common mistakes–as well as some of the best uses of punctuation.


Dashes (–)


I’d like to start with dashes because I find them to be particularly useful–especially for emphasizing certain points. You can use them to separate the end of a sentence:

Customers love our coffee-flavored televisions–and so will you!

Similarly, you can use dashes in place of commas (or parentheses) where you really want to highlight, as opposed to understate, some part of a sentence:

The coffee-flavored television–perfect for all ages–is the gift for the holidays!

Dashes are rarely used incorrectly and–as long as they take the place of commas or parentheses–you can’t go wrong; they’re mostly stylistic.


Semicolons (;)


Semicolons are great for connecting two relevant sentences; they let the customer know that two sentences work better together.

Our coffee-flavored televisions are amazing; no one can deny their flavorful visions!

Where people often go wrong with semicolons is in their connecting two irrelevant ideas or one or more fragments.

Customers can save money today; we hope you enjoyed this article.


Customers can save money today; better than before!

As long as you have two complete sentences that are closely related in meaning, you can use a semicolon to connect them. Semicolons can also be used to separate items in a list, such as in:

We love: savings; research and development; and growth.

While the semicolon here gives clarity to the list that includes “research and development” as its own item, you generally don’t need them; removing the colon and replacing the semicolons with commas would make this sentence just as clear (and more readily digested by customers who might be less familiar with the function of semicolons).

We love savings, research and development, and growth.

Since hyphens (-) have a somewhat unique purpose, I’ve given them their own post here.