Somewhere in the craggy quagmire of my memory, I seem to recall that the nuns of my grade school days taught me that a P.S. (post script) is followed by a colon, i.e. P.S.:

Alas, the periods after the "p" and "s" have all but disappeared in our Tweet-crazed culture but I persist in using them, not wanting to call down upon me the wrath of my former and now surely dearly departed nuns. But what of the colon? Is this a non-memory of my angst-ridden Catholic education? It seems wrong to follow a period (a full stop, after all, that signals a new thought) with the contents of a post script without some intervening mark. However, I do admit that on paper it does look, well, clunky. And try as I might, I cannot find the usage anywhere (I may eschew Twitter but I do Google (the content provider having given birth to a verb).

Doth the lady punctuate too much?

  • It's just indicating the start of the content: commenters here do the same with "@Compound: this is what I think". – Tim Lymington Dec 8 '11 at 13:14
  • Full stops in initialisms have been on the decline in UK English for decades. I can't think of a style guide that prescribes them. – George Stirling Jan 25 '14 at 13:54

There are some ways I've seen:


But they are "modifications" (i.e. postscript) that changed the original formula Post Scriptum.

It should be written as P.S. and after it you should just continue writing normally, such as:

P.S. I forgot to say that [...]

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  • 1
    Or, P.S. Your Cat is Dead – Callithumpian Apr 4 '11 at 0:31
  • Or, P.S. I Love You – Trufa Apr 4 '11 at 6:09
  • I don't agree with this. The modern English word "postscript" can quite legitimately be abbreviated to PS. or ps. - the language evolves! – Jez Sep 14 '11 at 11:26
  • @Jez: What exactly you don't agree with? Please, post a source that backs up your claim, otherwise your down-vote is not really justified to me, because even the wikipedia page agrees with me. – Alenanno Sep 14 '11 at 11:30
  • Interestingly, the Wikipedia page now agrees with @Jez that either ‘PS’ or ‘P.S.’ can be used. The Chicago Manual of Style specifically endorses only ‘PS’. More importantly, you cite no references for the advice that no colon should follow. References do not seem easy to come by, but at least Wiktionary agrees with me (and the asker) that a colon should be used. ‘PS/P.S.’ is comparable to ‘NB/N.B.’, which is always set off with a colon. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 8 '13 at 17:13

I believe the colon makes sense because the designation of a postscript is not actually a complete thought. Rather, the use of "post scriptum" indicates that something will be forthcoming, which I would set off from the "P.S." abbreviation using the colon.

However, American and British English have both largely moved away from using periods in abbreviations (FBI versus F.B.I., for instance). However, I would still use the colon to set off the rest of the sentence:

PS: Please note that this means we will not meet on Monday, but on Tuesday instead.

But I must admit that I have a fondness for "P.S.:" as well.

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I personally don't understand why "postscript" is written as one word when it came from two words to begin with: "post scriptum". For me this should clearly be either both letters punctuated with a period or neither.
To the original poster, you are not alone. I too have dim memories of (in my case Augustinian Fathers) driving home the usage of a colon after the letters. It would look horribly cluttered in today's streamlined English, but my memory says that "p.s.:" is correct. Looking at it, however, I know that it is in fact incorrect. Proper old fashioned usage was "p.s." but I suppose today's would be "ps".

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Well, I cite no reference, but having read the lucid arguments regarding the appropriate punctuation, I have elected to use " P.S.-With each installation before March 31..." for the post script on my sales letter for my business communications course. It looks better in the font I've chosen than it does here, but with a marked lack of consensus, I will roll the dice.:) I think the hyphen serves the same purpose as the colon in this case, describing a sudden blurted important afterthought?

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Just to add to the mix:

I worked as a writer-editor for the U.S. General Accounting Office in the '70s. Our "bible" was Lois Hutchinson's Standard Handbook for Secretaries, 8th ed. I still own a copy (no, I don't know why). On pages 299-300, she says:

Postscripts. A postscript is usually important; therefore it should stand out. Indent its margin about five spaces from the margin of the letter. If it bears a date different from that on the letter, put the date above it. The abbreviation "PS." or "P.S." may be used or omitted. (If a handwritten postscript or note is added, type it on all copies.)

    PS. - Samples of the different materials have just arrived, and we BLAHBLAHBLAH

I had to END the quoted material because I couldn't duplicate the hanging indent starting the next line under the "S" in "Samples." Also, I couldn't duplicate the en dash that follows "PS." It fascinates me that Lois, who majors in minutiae, does not mention anything about the en dash that she uses following the "PS."--which, I assume, also follows the "P.P.S." (see below). Usually, she would say that the en dash is required, but maybe she figured the example would suffice. So, per Lois, an en dash, not a colon and not any other punctuation, always follows a “P.S.”

She also has a 2-sentence paragraph following the above:

Post-Postscripts. If a second postscript is added, it may bear the abbreviation "P-PS." or "P.P.S." meaning post-postscript. BLAHBLAHBLAH

I'm sure the above information (no one is more authoritative than Lois!) will put an end to this discussion once and for all. Now, has anyone noticed the slowly disappearing period in “et al.”?

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