By Julee Attig, CPSM


When we speak, people can understand what we’re saying because we change the tone of our voice, raise an eyebrow, or take a pause. For a reader to understand what we’ve written, we need to change our tone. How do we do it? By using punctuation.


The capital letter, comma, hyphen, dash, period, question mark, ellipsis, exclamation point, and apostrophe make writing and reading easier. Punctuation adds clarity, complexity, and rhythm to your writing.


To convey the correct message to your reader in a proposal response, blog, email, brochure, or social media post, it’s important to use appropriate punctation marks. One flaw or omission may convey a totally different meaning. And when you’ve spent months pursuing a project, why would you want to make it difficult for a selection committee member to read and understand what you’ve written?


Here are helpful rules for some lesser-used punctuation marks:


Semi-colon (;)

Often used incorrectly, the semi-colon is used to join two connected sentences. It can also be used to assemble detailed lists.


Michael prefers the richly decorated architectural style that is Rococo; Isabel is drawn to the symmetrical Baroque style.


To meet the needs of your regional on-call contract we’ve composed a team of architects and engineers from Salt Lake City, Utah; Boise, Idaho; Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; and Las Vegas, Nevada.


Brackets ( )

Always in pairs, brackets are used to make a point which is not part of the main flow of the sentence. If you remove the words between the brackets, the sentence should still make sense.


As much as choosing an architect and working with one might seem like a daunting task, familiarizing yourself with the major phases of design (schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding, construction administration) will make the process much easier.


Punctuation of brackets can get complicated. Just remember that if brackets end the sentence, place the punctuation (like a period or question mark) outside.


Square Brackets [ ]

Use square brackets when you want to modify another person’s words. Square brackets are often used to add clarification, information, missing words, editorial comment, or to modify a direct quotation.


The two shortlisted firm in the design competition are both from Europe [Spain and France].


You only have a short time to impress or persuade someone with your writing. Make it count by prioritizing good grammar and punctuation in your firm’s collateral.

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About The Author

Julee Attig, CPSM

Julee Attig, CPSM is an A/E/C marketing professional with 24 years of experience in proposal writing, marketing strategy, strategic planning, business development, event management and social media.

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