Good punctuation goes a long way when it comes to being taken seriously at work and job hunting. The average recruiter only spends about 7.4 seconds scanning a resume, and the last thing you want to stand out for is putting a comma in the wrong place. According to grammar experts Kathy and Ross Petras, these are the common punctuation mistakes that irritate people the most.
- Misplaced apostrophes - You use them to show possession, as in “the person’s house,” and to stand for missing letters, like haven’t = have not. But you DON’T use apostrophes to make words into plurals.
- Misusing “it’s” - Lots of people forget that “it’s” always means “it is.”
- Incorrect quotation marks - They don’t go just anywhere, here’s how to use them correctly:
- To set off exact language from someone else or from media, like a book or play. As in: The CEO said “cost-cutting shouldn’t come at the expense of our team.”
- Around the title of an article, movie, or other kind of media.
- To show that a word is slang, as in: The man complained about his “weird flex.”
- To be ironic or sarcastic, like saying, My “best friend” at work really stuck it to me.
- Putting periods in the wrong place - WIth quotation marks, the period goes inside, not outside. Example: They said, “See, this is where the period goes.”
- Putting commas in the wrong place - People also seem to think commas can be sprinkled liberally throughout a sentence, but the right places for commas include:
- In dates, addresses, titles and numbers. Example: Her interview was on January 5th, 2022.
- Between two clauses that are joined by words like and, but, yet, and so. As in: She was supposed to meet the manager yesterday, but he moved the meeting.
- To set off the name of someone you’re addressing directly. Example: Tyler, I’d like to set up a meeting.
- Putting two spaces after a period - This is a throwback to the old days of typewriters when there was a hard and fast rule to put two spaces after a period. But times have changed and it’s only one space now.