Punctuation may seem like a simple thing, but it’s an important component of a website’s readability and one that is often overlooked. Further, when it comes to Internet advertising for plastic surgeons, your website must evoke a sense of professionalism and credibility, and simple errors in punctuation can hamper this.
Many people have problems with punctuation in print, and online it can prove even more challenging. Punctuation online is similar in some ways and different in others to punctuation in print. The following are basic rules for punctuation in your web site’s content.
- Sentence Spacing. This is one punctuation rule that confounds lots of people. Two spaces are used in print to separate the end of one sentence from the beginning of another. On the Web, however, browsers ignore the second space and only recognize a single space. As such, a single space between sentences is generally used on the Web.
- Titles, Headers and Punctuation. In print, page titles and section headers typically don’t contain ending punctuation. The same applies to writing on the Web. The one exception is when you’re asking a question, in which case a question mark is obviously appropriate. Avoid using exclamation points as these can come off as campy’ and unprofessional.
- Lists and Punctuation. If you’ve every written a list, such as a bulleted or numbered one, you’ve probably questioned whether or not to use ending punctuation. The rule requires that ending punctuation be used when list items are complete sentences. When items are short statements or sentence fragments, ending punctuation is not required. Make sure that all items in a single list are either complete sentences or fragments, not both, and that your punctuation is consistent.
- Underlining. On the Web, the only text that should be underlined is link text. There are no exceptions to this rule. Internet users have come to expect underlined text on the Web to be a link. Things that are usually underlined in print, such as titles of books, magazines, songs and so on, should use bold or italic text instead. Make sure that you remain consistent, either bolding or italicizing all appropriate text.
- Using Acronyms and Abbreviations. Acronyms and abbreviations can easily become confusing. As such, it’s important that you use them carefully. In fact, in many cases it’s often best to spell them out.
- Quotation Marks. When content is written in Microsoft Word and transferred to HTML, basic quotation marks are typically replaced with curly quotes known as smart quotes. Though smart quotes appear normally in an Explorer browser run on a Microsoft server, they can morph into strange characters when other products are used by visitors. Double check your quotation marks and make sure that they’re functioning properly.
- Consistency. Once you’ve determine the correct way to use punctuation on the Web, make sure that you’re consistent and follow the same rules for all of your content.