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...BlogsOET Writing: Common concerns about the use of punctuation in letter writing
OET Writing: Common concerns about the use of punctuation in letter writing

Candidates often ask questions about the use of punctuation in the address and greeting of the letter in the Writing sub-test task:

  • Should I put a comma at the end of each line of the address?
  • Is it correct to put a comma at the end of the greeting? For example: Dear Mrs Davidson,
  • Should I put a full stop after a person’s title? For example: Dear Mrs. Davidson
  • Do I need a comma after Yours sincerely/faithfully?

The answer is that putting a comma or a full stop in each of these situations is acceptable. Not putting a comma or a full stop is also acceptable. Time has changed the way we use punctuation. In effect, we have become lazier: omitting punctuation which was standard in the past. For example: Dear Mrs Davidson

This means, if you add the punctuation in the situations given above, or if you don’t, you will have used equally acceptable English.

It’s understandable why candidates become very concerned about little things like correct punctuation. It’s good to remember though that it forms only one of the six assessment criteria in the Writing sub-test. Therefore, it shouldn’t be given more weight in your preparation than more important things such as the structure and content of the letter.

You can learn more about the Writing sub-test on the OET website.