How to Use Semicolons to Spice Up Your Email Content

Nicholas Graziade

They lurk in the dark corners of books, blogs, and articles, prowling and winding their way through each and every word like phantoms until they strike without warning!

I’m of course talking about semicolons.

I’ve been crafting the English language for most of my professional life, and if there is one thing that can terrify even the most seasoned writer, it’s the semicolon.

Never fear! Together, let’s explore the ins and outs of these dreaded punctuation marks so you can try them out and really impress your readers.

How to Use Semicolons

Semicolons have a relatively innocuous function; they combine smaller sentences into larger ones.

You probably noticed that I used a semicolon in that definition, but this was deliberate because I think it demonstrates the more important reason to use them:

Semicolons link ideas together.

Think about the links between the two ideas in the first definition. I did this because they’re both:

  • Closely-related ideas.
  • Definitions.
  • Around the same length.

There’s one other fundamentally critical thing to know about semicolons:

Semicolons combine sentences that can stand alone.

A sentence that stands by itself (AKA an “independent clause”) makes sense by itself. If one side doesn’t make sense without the other, you shouldn’t use a semicolon!

Examples

Below are some sample sentences that each use a semicolon. Keep in mind the variety!

  • The weather was cold and rainy; it was a miserable day.
  • Synergy is a core value at Informz; we work as a team to produce remarkable results!
  • Professional associations have become a major career blessing for an entire generation of new college graduates; in fact, there are many studies that show they are supplanting websites and job boards as the primary job hunting resource.
  • Our organization attracts many different mathematicians and analysts; my colleagues and I are particularly fascinated by statistics.
  • I had never seen a condor in the wild; my trip to the wildlife preserve changed that!
  • I’m fond of many different styles of music; on one hand, I love Beethoven, and on the other, I love the Beatles.

I hope you’ve learned something new about one of my favorite punctuation marks. We often want to improve our content with creative prose and powerful word choices, but sometimes all it takes is a well-placed semicolon to make a lasting impression!

Looking for more tips on writing great marketing copy? Check out my posts on using verbs, who vs. whom, and common word choices that could sabotage your email copy.

About the Author
Nicholas Graziade

As the Documentation Architect at Informz, Nick is a technical writer, copyeditor, and grammar guru all rolled into one! When not keeping tabs on the Informz KnowledgeBase, he enjoys writing poetry, mastering the bass guitar, and reading works by famous philosophers.