I was at the local bistro the other day with a friend. As we perused the menu, I mentioned that the salmon salad sounded delicious, but I didn’t want the corn included in the dish.
She suggested I ask the waiter to have the chef leave that item off my plate. This sounded like an excellent idea, until I took a second look at the menu.
“Grilled Salmon, Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salsa, Spinach, Avocado, Almonds, and Chipotle Ranch Dressing.”
I decided I didn’t want to put the chef to all the trouble of digging every kernel of corn out of the salsa, and grinned as I ordered something else.
Because the person writing the menu knew where to place each comma, I didn’t embarrass myself with the waiter. And the waiter didn’t get the opportunity to snicker with the chef about the crazy lady who wanted the corn removed from the salsa.
Much of the time, unfortunately, the opposite is true. Lack of punctuation, or incorrect punctuation, in product and service descriptions leads the buyer to make decisions he comes to regret.
If we want readers to understand exactly what we mean, we owe it to them write clearly, using proper punctuation in every sentence.
What’s the worst punctuation goof you’ve seen in an ad or article? Share it in the comments, and we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t write it.