Course Outcomes

This punctuation course will:

  • Provide an overview of capitalization rules.
  • Review the function of commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, and other punctuation marks.
  • Show participants how to use punctuation to change the meaning of their writing.
  • Review the organization’s preferred stylistic preferences. 

Course Overview

Of the problems that plague readers in the workplace, many are caused by a writer’s failure to use punctuation and capitalization correctly. Beyond creating the wrong tone for their readers, writers who fail to follow accepted rules run the risk of being misunderstood by or offensive to their readers.

This workshop is for anyone who can’t quite remember such information as when to use a semicolon or apostrophe, what to capitalize, and exactly what it is a comma does. In case you’ve forgotten what you learned in school or were absent that semester, this fast-paced and fun half-day session will reacquaint you with when to use which marks and why.

For a comprehensive day of English review, this program may be combined with Business Training Works’ grammar review course.

Program Objectives

At this program’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Use capital letters accurately and in keeping with the stylistic preferences of their organization or industry.
  • Find the in-house printed resources to consult when they need clarification on which words to capitalize within a title, heading, caption, and sentence.
  • Identify the most frequently used internal punctuation marks that enhance readers’ understanding of a written text.
  • Understand what each punctuation mark signifies to a reader.
  • Demonstrate accurate placement of commas, semicolons, colons, parentheses, hyphens, brackets, dashes, ellipses, quotation marks, and apostrophes within their own texts.
  • Identify their organization’s stylistic preferences for punctuation use and recognize that these preferences may differ significantly from those they had to adhere to in school.
  • Use the appropriate end mark to use in a sentence.

The following outline highlights some of the course’s key learning points. As part of your training program, we will modify content as needed to meet your business objectives. Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of participant materials prior to the session(s). 

Workshop Outline 

A Capital Idea: Knowing When to Use One

A capital letter commands attention, and that’s why sentences begin with one. Beyond needing one to start a thought or ask a question, there are other instances when caps are in order. Unfortunately, people have gotten in the habit of using them to show importance. This session begins with a discussion of the situations that demand capital letters. Additionally, we will consider the organization’s preferences for capitalizing terms that ordinarily don’t require an uppercase letter at their start.

Breathe but Keep Going: What the Marks Mean

Most people know how to start and end a sentence. It’s the stuff between the first word and the last mark that causes confusion. Internal punctuation is the ultimate thought clarifier if the writer knows how to use it correctly. In the wrong hands, commas crop up in sentences like clumps of chickweed and for no apparent reason. Business signs reveal, “Tomatoe’s – 3 for $1.” A reference to “three-toed sloths” makes us scratch our heads and wonder just how many toes or sloths we’re talking about.

In this part of the workshop, participants will practice using commas, semicolons, parentheses, dashes, and other internal punctuation marks with accuracy and ease. Group members will also learn how different marks may be used to achieve the same effect. 

Just Stop It: Bringing Thoughts to an End

People have little difficulty knowing how to start a sentence, but ending one can be tricky sometimes. Take, for example, the statement: “I wonder if you’d do something for me.” If you thought this should have ended with a question mark, think again. Placing exclamation points at the end of every other sentence completely defeats the purpose of using them. This segment of the program focuses on knowing which end mark will work best in a given situation.

The Company You Keep: Playing by the Rules

In many instances, organizations have writing style resources available to employees. These may be internally generated “style sheets” or more extensive style guides designed for industry-wide use. If the participants’ organization has such a preferred resource, we will spend the last part of the program examining its recommendations for capitalization and punctuation.

By the program’s conclusion, those who attend should be able to avoid run-on sentences that are caused by using commas where something else is needed. They should know how to set off an introductory phrase or element from the main clause of a sentence by inserting a comma in the appropriate location. We will also discuss how varying punctuation marks can be just as important as varying word choice.