Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #5

Punctuate Properly.

What have commas and apostrophes got to do with your business?

More than you might imagine.

A customer’s first impression of your business might well be from your copy. Any mistakes in your advertising send out a very clear message – your workmanship or service is shoddy and best avoided.

Fixing spelling is a simple matter. Check it. But many people slip up on punctuation. And the biggest thing they slip up on is the apostrophe.

Avoid the apostrophe catastrophe

  • Steer clear of the grocers’ apostrophe. It’s never banana’s 50p, apple’s £1, grape’s £1.50, always bananas 50p, apples £1, grapes £1.50.
  • Use apostrophes to indicate possession. Farquar’s apples. Quentin’s bananas. Tarquin’s grapes.
  • BUT never use them with possessive personal pronouns (its, hers, theirs, ours etc). The cat broke its leg. NOT the cat broke it’s leg.
  • Use apostrophes for contractions. It’s for it is. Who’s for who is etc
  • Be careful of the distinction between its and it’s. This is probably the biggest apostrophe catastrophe of all.

Minimal punctuation = copywriting success

Good copy is all about clarity. For that you should usually use short, simple sentences. Even sentence fragments like this one.

One way to achieve this is to keep your punctuation simple. Ditch the colons and semicolons. Also, weed out excessive use of commas. You’ll often find them in long sentences that run on and on from one idea to the next. Delete them and break up your ideas into individual sentences. You’ll most likely find that your copy reads more clearly.

Clear and unambiguous copy is your best bet. And for that, simple punctuation is your best bet too.

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Martin Philp provides professional copywriting services for high street brands and small businesses.