Full Stop


A full stop is what Brits call what Americans call a period.

They are the copywriter’s ninja stars. They’re small. They’re stealth. They go virtually unnoticed but can make a big impact.

Full stops make copy more definitive. They change pacing of copy, create pauses or provide emphasis to a phrase.

Just. Like. This.

Apples. Oranges. All kinds of stuff. But we have no bananas today.

Power. It’s in your hands.

You will remember this sentence. Forever.

 copywriting guide - full stop

To Stop. Or not to stop?

Like post-menopausal women, the majority of headlines have no periods.

Yet, a very significant number of headlines do use them – and for good reason. When you write headlines, headings, taglines and similar standalone pieces of copy, think carefully about whether or not to add a full stop. It’s a small point but can make a sizeable difference in the sense of what is communicated.

Headlines without a full stop function a bit more like a topic, a theme or a call to attention. Headlines with a full stop come across as more declarative – a statement, a quotation, a proclamation.

 

Nitty Gritty Usage Details

A full stop is followed by a single space. In the age of typewriters and monospaced fonts, typists were taught to double space following the end of a sentence. This misinstruction still lingers on a bit today. In fact, a double space is completely wrong. Computers today intelligently adjust the spacing of all characters in a font, the spacing between words, between sentences, etc. If you measured them with an eensy-weensy ruler, you would find the space after a sentence is automatically adjusted to be slightly larger than the space between words, but not as vast a chasm as an unnecessary double space.

Nearly all manuscripts require single spaces after sentences. If you use double spaces, you will cause immense headaches for copyeditors, designers doing layout, or yourself. Someone will have to go back and delete all of those spaces one by one.

Another proscription: If you have a heading or tagline with items in a series and you are using full stops in between them in lieu of commas, you must have a full stop at the very end. Always. End of story.

While some people are not bothered by the hanging word, for others it smacks of being abhorrently wrong. Don’t brand yourself as ignorant.

 

Good

Little. Yellow. Different.

Desired. Yours.

 

Bad

Little. Yellow. Different

Desired. Yours

 

(Did you read our belligerent advice on comma usage? Click here to read up on your comma rules. Or click over to our hyphen rant to make sure you know the difference between a hyphen, an en-dash, and an em-dash.)