Letter and Report Writing Skills – Practical Guide to Punctuation

Our letter writing course will allow delegates to gain useful letter writing tools, tips and techniques and also includes constructive letter and report templates. Delegates who have trained with us have effectively applied the skills gained from this course to their everyday workplace correspondence. This productive course will also demonstrate the particulars of writing effective emails, whilst improving punctuation and grammar.

All organisations need to convey a professional image in every way to stay ahead of the competition. It is paramount that all pieces of written documentation are faultless. As your professional reputation can be enhanced or ruined by your correspondence, it is essential that the style, content and message is concise, correct and appropriate.


Punctuation is the written equivalent of pauses and emphasis in speech, and helps to make a document easy to read and understand.

You may find the following summary useful when you are drafting reports or letters.

It is broken into several different sections:

  •  ending a sentence
  •  separating parts of a sentence
  •  special situations.


. Full stop

Use a full stop to show the end of a sentence, unless an exclamation mark or question mark is more appropriate.

You may use a full stop with abbreviations, when you would pronounce the letters individually in speech:

m.p.h. and m.p.g.

When you speak the abbreviated word as a complete word, for example NATO, the full stops can be omitted.

? Question mark

Used at the end of a question which requires an answer:

When will this rain stop?

But not for: “I asked when it would stop raining.”

! Exclamation mark

Used to show emotion or urgency:

Escape! Hurry up!


, Comma

Use a comma to identify a part of a sentence which is separate from the main theme:

Redesigning the garden, based on a Mediterranean theme, took several months….

Use a comma to separate an opening expression or introductory phrase from what follows:

However,… For example,… Surprisingly,…

Requiring information about our operational results, a customer wrote to us.

Use a comma to avoid ambiguity:

The woman, having tripped over the cat, fell downstairs.

The woman having tripped over, the cat fell downstairs.

Use a comma to separate items in a list. Using the final comma is a matter of personal style:

You can choose from Jaguar, BMW or Mercedes.

You can choose from Jaguar, BMW, or Mercedes.

MISUSE. The comma should NOT be used to separate different concepts or ideas in one sentence. If in any doubt you should use separate sentences.

() Brackets

Used to insert an ‘aside’ into a sentence:

Commenting last night, John Smith [the company Director] said that….

The sentence outside the brackets must read correctly by itself.

; Semicolon

Use a semicolon to link different ideas in one sentence:

Mind mapping is a superb note-taking technique; months later the words simply jump out of the page.

Use a semicolon to separate items: in a list when using commas would be inappropriate:

The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors gives further advice on using punctuation with foreign expressions; for typographical marks such as asterisks and footnotes; and for unusual requirements, for example recording chess moves.

: Colon

Use a colon at the start of a list or series of ideas:

Travellers are advised to carry with them: traveller’s cheques, passport, visa and local currency.

Use a colon before quotations:

In the words of Sir Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end…”

Use a colon before an explanation:

The launch was a failure: the rocket fuel tank ruptured in three places.

Use a colon, instead of a semicolon, when the information which follows contrasts with the first part of the sentence:

We expect business to increase by some 12% in the new year: we must also expect our client base to reduce by 5%.

– Dash

Use a dash for emphasis:

There are only two things certain in this life – – death and taxes.

Use a dash to indicate a break:

I can’t see anything through this fog – aaaah!

Use a dash to identify a part of a sentence which is separate from the main theme:

Redesigning the garden – based an a Mediterranean theme – took several months

Letter and Report writing course

Our letter and report writing course is tailored to the needs of delegates who already retain business writing skills and those who would like to gain further knowledge on:

  • how to write a good report
  • how to write effective letters
  • how to write professionally
  • how to write confidently
  • how to write a standard letter
  • how to write a formal report
  • how to write a complaint letter

Course Dates

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Who will benefit from the course?

What are the best ways to produce effective letters and reports? This course is designed to lead to practical skills to enable delegates to be both competent and confident in their written communication. Our courses allow all staff to benefit from enhanced writing skills. The types of delegate we have trained previously are:

  • Directors and senior managers
  • Sales and fundraising staff
  • Local government employees
  • Managers, department heads, team leaders and supervisors
  • Technical and academic team members
  • Customer service staff

In-Company Courses

Total Success have developed a series of in-house training modules. These are designed so that an organisation can pick the training which is more applicable to its own needs and budget. Please call us to discuss your specific requirements

Total Success Training Packs

Why use a total success training pack

If you are looking to run your own training course but lack the materials and the time to develop a fully functional training seminar we produce a range of training materials and packs which will suit your requirements exactly. All of our packs and been written by our own training experts and we can guarantee that the training pack will satisfy your course requirements. Each pack will contain a full set of PowerPoint training slides, trainer’s notes, a course manual, and a full set of handouts and activities.

We have been running our courses since 1995 and have trained 1000’s of people via open courses and in-company seminars. We guarantee that the course you buy is the one we train. All courses are trainer and trainee friendly so you’ll be up and running quickly (depending on your training experience).

We know how difficult it is to choose amongst the many training materials available on line, that’s why we have 3 packages that will suit you needs. With our gold, silver and bronze packages you can choose the training format that’s right for you and your budget. Call us 0044 (0)208 269 1177 to discuss your requirements or email us info@totalsuccess.co.uk

Related information

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