From casual chats to formal emails, you may have seen people write ‘PS’ in various forms of text communication. But what does it mean? It is a super common acronym that we use as part of our everyday language.
It is short for the Latin word, ‘post scriptum,’ meaning ‘post script’. It translates to ‘written after’ in the English language, in the sense that ‘post’ means after and ‘scriptum’ means writing.
Traditionally, PS is an abbreviation that should be used after the main body or context of any written piece. This is because it is an afterthought that usually serves the purpose of an addendum.
Origin of Post Scriptum
We assume you have heard the famous song PS I Love You on the Beatles’ 1963 album, but where did it actually originate from? Unlike today, backspacing was not an option when people would write letters.
In case they missed any important details or information, there was no way to go back and insert information. You could either rewrite the entire letter or add a PS section after completing the letter to include any forgotten ideas.
The inclusion of postscript played an essential role back then. It saved people from time-consuming do-overs and allowed space for afterthoughts and missed details. And while its roots trace back to ancient times, it still comes in handy today.
You may have questions popping in your mind regarding the punctuation rules of PS. Should you capitalize it? Or is it used with periods or without? Some even question whether any trailing punctuations are important to use after PS.
The correct way to go about it is to keep both the alphabets capitalized. However, when it comes to using periods, grammarians are still debating it.
Another thing grammarians like to debate about in regards to PS is the trailing punctuations. Some want it to be free of trailing punctuations. Meanwhile, others believe that it should be followed by a colon to separate it from the statement.
The bottom line for the correct punctuation style of PS? There are no hard and fast rules. The only ideal way to use PS is to capitalize both alphabets (and add periods separating them, if you wish).
Your safest approach would be to leave out the use of any trailing punctuations. However, if you have multiple afterthoughts to add, you can also make use of PPS, PPPS, PPPPS, and onwards.
An example of the different ways you can punctuate PS:
- PS Don’t forget to read the book I sent you and tell me what you think about it.
- P.S. Don’t forget to read the book I sent you and tell me what you think about it.
- PS: Don’t forget to read the book I sent you and tell me what you think about it.
- P.S.: Don’t forget to read the book I sent you and tell me what you think about it.
Your letter or email need not adhere to a style guide as there are no right or wrong ways to punctuate PS.
While it’s easy to edit a digitally written piece nowadays, people still widely use ‘PS’ in their writing. This may be because it grabs the reader’s attention, informing them of an additional piece of information. It can also serve the purpose of emphasizing something that you may have already used in your body text.
It is also an amazing way to add a little personal touch to whatever you may have composed. Grammarly describes it as the wink you give while walking away. In today’s world, it is often used to make a reminder or a funny afterthought. Some also used it to provide a call for action or for summing up the content of the message.
Lovers like to add a PS section after signing off to remind their loved ones of their feelings for them. Charles Dickens used it in a note to apologize to his young fan for his messy signature. Here is how the celebrity sender added his PS statement:
P.S. I don’t write my name very plain, but you know what it is, so never mind.
Whatever correspondence you’re composing, you can use PS to add anything that you forgot to mention in the main context. So, whether it is a letter, text message, or email, you can use PS to add your afterthoughts after signing off.
While it sounds like a PS section would look absurd right below the signature line, it looks much better in reality. You can totally place the letters p and s in their capitalized form below your signature.
Then, write your additional text in the same line, as we did in the above-written examples. These days, although people use abbreviations like IKR when texting on platforms like Whatsapp or Instagram, they still use PS in conversations. In this case, it’s added as a new message.
Using PS correctly in email
Computers and word processors allow us to edit and reprint documents without putting in a lot of effort. This means electronic communication could eliminate the need of PS altogether.
However, that is not the case. Instead, it is still used today in emails and messages to bring the reader’s notice to a specific point. The tool has evolved from being used to add in missed details to being used for emphasizing something or adding an afterthought.
It is especially useful in emails today as we have become a generation that tends to skim through the lengthy text and only notice the beginning or the end. This is where PS works in its full effect.
You may not care to read an entire email or even just the body, but you will notice the PS section at the end. This can truly help the sender get their point across. Studies suggest that 79% of people first read the PS right after opening an email.
Example of using PS in an email:
PS I can’t wait to see you next week.
The Best Ways to Use PS in Today’s World
While PS was originally meant to include missed points, it is serving different purposes today.
1. For Emphasizing a Point
The use of post scriptum allows you to reiterate an important subject that you may have already included in your context. This helps the reader identify the most important detail of your message. It even allows you to highlight a certain point because PS separates the additional statement from the rest of the text.
2. Adding Something Extra
It happens too often that you have a wonderful thought or idea, but it doesn’t really go with the tone or idea of the rest of the context. In that case, use PS, so your thought doesn’t go unheard.
3. Adding a Bit of a Charm
If you are the fun type and want to give your recipient something to enjoy, start adding post scriptum. It allows you to add a bit of a personal touch to any kind of context. You even can add humor or something sweet.
4. Sharing a Parting Thought
Another way to use a PS is to include a key takeaway or parting thought to your email.
5. Expressing a Sentiment
It should not be surprising that post scriptum has played an important role in love letters since the beginning of time. Love letters still feel incomplete even today if they don’t end with a heart-touching PS. Don’t forget to add post scriptum to get across the deepest of your sentiments.
6. Having the Last Word in an Argument
You can make use of a post scriptum to add a few final lines to support your argument. For professionals, it’s a good way to come off as assertive and ensure that you’ve made your point clear.
7. Reiterating a Call to Action
Often used as a marketing strategy, a post scriptum can also deliver a call to action. Your recipient may not have noticed what you expect of them from the body of your email. But adding a PS can grab their attention quicker.
Coming from the Latin language, post scriptum is a way to add additional information after signing off. Although the reason it was initially used no longer exists, the use of PS in correspondence continues even today.
You can see a PS function in chat inboxes, emails, and even some novels. Now, it’s used as a way to highlight an important point, capture the reader’s attention, or summarize what was written in the main body.