Postscript is also called PS. It’s said to come from the Latin word Postcriptum, which means ‘written after.’
When we talk of a postscript, it simply means an additional thought added to letters—and sometimes to other documents, which comes after it has been done.
In the past, the days when handwritten and typed letters were common, we often found ourselves remembering something that we should have said afterward, and that’s after we’d signed off or seemed to have ended the topic of discussion. Look at it this way, wouldn’t it be odd to come a few minutes after completing a given task and be like, ‘oh, and we have to do this or that…’ if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, it’s so weird.
Well, that’s where Postscript came in to be our savior. It’s also often pretty handy as an addition to a clever afterthought. And it can be added for emphasis, or even as an argumentative ‘so there!’ it’s one tool in the English language that can be applied in direct and email marketing, which we will be talking about shortly.
Some notable examples of postscript;
1. At the bottom [of the rejection slip] was an unsigned jotted message, the only personal response I got from AHMM over the eight years of regular submissions. ‘Don’t staple manuscripts,’ the postscript read. ‘Loose Pages plus paperclip equal correct way to submit a copy.’
This was pretty cold advice, I thought, but useful in its way. I have never stapled a manuscript since.’
(Postscript example from Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the craft. Simon and Schuster, 2000)
2. B. White’s Letter to Harold Ross Editor of the New Yorker
[August 28, 1944]
Thanks for the Harper Advert. From your valued magazine. I would have seen it anyway, but I’m particularly glad to get it hot from your stapling department…
I would have changed publishers fifteen years ago; only I don’t know how you change publishers. I didn’t know how babies came in the first half of my life, and now, in my declining years, I don’t see how you change publishers. I guess I will always be in some quandary.
P.S. the de-stapling machine works better than I would have believed possible.
(Letters of E.B. White, rev. Ed., edited by Dorothy Lobrano White and Martha White. Harper Collins, 2006)
3. James Thurber’s postscript in a letter to E.B. White (June 1961)
“If the United States had had you and G.B. Shaw working together, would the country have had the E.B.G. B’S? If so, it would have been good for us.”
(Postscript example by Neil A. Grauer in Remember Laughter: A Life of James Thurber. University of Nebraska Press, 1995)
4. ‘Today’s policy measures are injecting cash flows that will directly raise the broader measures of money Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan or talking heads Macron wrote in a postscript to their book ‘The Great Demographic Reversal,’ published this year.
(After 20 trillion dollars in pandemic Relief spending, there’s still no sign of inflation. What happened? By Bernard Warner, August 25th, 2020, Fortune Magazine)
5. [XVII, 2941, PP. 164-5; typewritten with handwritten postscript] Koestler replied on March 23rd
(George Orwell teaches you how to review books, by George Orwell, August 15th, 2013, Daily Beast)
6. Postscript of all the interviews I did, Lee Marvin was by far the biggest surprise.
(the story behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile, by Robert Ward, January 3rd, 2015, Daily Beast)
Using Postscript as a Rhetorical Strategy
- Studies reveal that when people receive personal and even printed letters, they read the salutation first and P.S. next. Therefore you do need to make sure your P.S. includes your most attractive benefit, your invitation to action, or anything that tends to inspire a feeling of urgency. There’s an art to writing a P.S. I advise that your letters, but never your mail, include the handwritten P.S. message. This is because it’s said to prove beyond doubt that you’ve created a one-of-a-kind letter that wasn’t sent to thousands of people. In our age of technology, personal touches stand tall.’
(Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for making big profits from your small business. Rev. ed. Houghton Mifflin, 2007)
- Now, when writing a fundraising letter, do remember that various potential donors will read your letter’s P.S. before the body of the letter, so do include any compelling information there.
(Stan Hutton and Frances Phillips, Nonprofit Kit for Dummies, 3rd ed. For Dummies 2009)
Now enough with the examples, let’s learn how to punctuate and format PS
How to Punctuate and Format PS
The question that lies now is, is it a must to always capitalize my PS? And how is it abbreviated, with (P.S.) or without (PS) periods? Should I be able to use any trailing punctuation? Surprisingly, there are no hard and fast lines to these questions—bar none when it comes to all of these.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it is suggested that English writers make their postscript in this way, and that’s PS. This is the proper format in British English.
For instance, PS, don’t forget to let the cat in before sundown.
And the Cambridge dictionary also suggests that P.S. (with the periods after each letter) be used as the American English format. Surely, you’ll often find it shortened or abbreviated as such in the United States. And the Chicago manual of style is said to favor PS without the periods.
My verdict? Well, usage varies, and PS isn’t stuck with the many style guides, which are more often than not mere formalities. The safest bet is to capitalize your P and S; make sure to use periods after each letter, especially if that’s your preference. And do leave out all trialing punctuation.
How a Postscript or PS is used in emails?
You use PS to add something you forgot to mention in the main body of any intimate correspondence. And this includes emails or letters.
Place the letters PS immediately below your signature line. Next up, place the line or lines of text you wish to add next to the PS. For digital correspondence like WhatsApp messages or even tweets, it’s pretty common to add your PS by applying a new message. This helps to show a different form of emphasis. You can write PS with or without periods after each given letter.
I’m sorry we never got to have lunch together. I have many things on my desk that sometimes I hardly have time for myself. I want you to find it in your heart to forgive me for this little misdeed, and I assure you it won’t be happy again.
P.S. This time we would be having the dinner date in my house, and I would be the one cooking!
Seven best ways to use postscript or PS;
- Leaving the receiver with a parting thought
If you want to make the perfect takeaway, then do not fail to use the PS.
P.S this could be over if you can say yes to me. I’ll be waiting for your feedback.
- Add some charm
PS or Postscripts can be applied to add some quirky, smart, sweet touch to your letter. This does help leave the reader with something to savor about you.
Hey Neville, Nice to chat with you again; when would you be coming over? Please notify me when you get this message.
P.S. I caught a baby shark while at the beach yesterday!
- Emphasize the given subject
A postscript tends to let you repeat an important point that is being addressed in the letter. This tends to create emphasis where it’s most required. This is because the PS makes a visual break from the rest of the letter. It also helps highlight a single point, both thematically and visually.
P.S Neville, don’t forget you’ll be staying with me for a few weeks, pretty please!
- Expressing a significant emotion or sentiment
Yes, PS or postscript can be used to determine or convey the deepest sentiments or emotions you may have at a certain time. This is no surprise that the postscript or PS is said to have a timeless connection to love letters—I feel giddy writing this now; I don’t know why! A true love letter isn’t, or it’s never complete without that romantic and soft touch of the PS, which tends to touch the right spot at the moment.
P.S. Neville, I wanted to say I love you xoxo.
- None Relevance
You might have that eureka thought that you might want to place in your letter. But, what if it isn’t important to the rest of your meaning of the letter? What should you do about this?
Well, no need to fret, dear one, with the PS, you’ve got yourself covered!
P.S. I know this is off-topic, but is it true you bought some nice blue sneakers?
- A call to action
For direct mail campaigns, the PS is most necessary and often applied as a marketing tool. You can use it to promote special offers, deliver a call to action or share some testimonials from that happy client of yours.
It’s very helpful in this regard, especially in a world where people often skim large chunks of content—look at it this way, who has the time to read lots of stuff? But PS is an involuntary ‘hey stop here before you leave!’ connotation when it comes to PS.
And the fact that it’s separate from the rest of the letter tends to create a clean and visible break. And this helps highlight the given information.
P.S. Neville, I’ll be offering a 30 percent discount on all the muffins you buy from me.
- Makes your Argumentative
If you wish to have the last word in an argument—no objections whatsoever, use the PS.
P.S do not place my flowers outside again. Do you get that?
And let’s face it. Sometimes a single afterthought isn’t enough. For a fact, one afterthought tends to lead to another, which leads to another, and leading to more and finally having a compound PS.
What should you do at this hour?
Well, fortunately for you, you aren’t limited to a single postscript. Here are some of the ways to share various afterthoughts in a given letter;
- PPS aka post-post scriptum or PSS aka post-super-scriptum, you can place them on the line below your initial PS to add a thought or information.
- Or you can continue adding PS to the front of the abbreviation as many times as necessary to express your thoughts.
- Place the letters PPPS (post-post-post-scriptum) just below the PPS or PSS to add another line for afterthoughts.
That said, Good luck! And Gracias, for reading my post.