You’ve probably seen the letters “PS” added to the end of some letters or emails, with a little extra bit of information or commentary attached.
But in the age of emails, texts, and instant messaging, is a “PS” even necessary? And what do those letters even stand for, anyway? We’ve got you covered with the answer to these questions and more.
What Is the Full Meaning of PS?
“PS” is short for postscript, and it comes from the Latin postscriptum, which means “written after.” A postscript is a thought added to letters, emails, and sometimes other documents after the original body of the message has already been completed.
Back when letters were only handwritten, if you thought of something you wanted to mention after you’d already signed off, you couldn’t just move your cursor and insert your thought where you intended to mention it.
Writers faced the same issue with typewriters, which also lack a “backspace” button or cursor.
The only option, then, was to write a postscript, or “PS” to get that final word in. And although times have changed and inclusion of a “PS” isn’t really necessary, it can still be useful for effect and adding emphasis to a certain point.
PS in Email
Obviously, if you’re typing out an email, you have the option and ability of editing your text and inserting more information to the message’s body before hitting “send.”
But including a “PS” is seen by many marketing experts as a wise strategy for getting attention and improving a reader’s chances of following through with your call to action.
And even if your postscript doesn’t contain any critical calls to action, a PS can still be a great way to add a playful, familiar tone to your message, whether it’s handwritten or typed out in shorthand.
What Is the Correct Way to Write PS?
Different style guides have slightly different standards for how “PS” should be punctuated and formatted.
The Cambridge Dictionary explains that “P.S.” (note the periods between each letter) is the standard in American English, whereas “PS” (without periods) is the common format in British English.
However, the Chicago Manual of Style also advocates for “PS,” suggesting that the periods not be included.
In any case, both the ‘P’ and ‘S’ are typically capitalized, regardless of whether you choose to punctuate with periods or not.
Is PS Formal?
“PS” can be used in either formal or informal letters and emails, as long as the tone and context more or less match that of the rest of the message.
Though it was once most common in letters between acquaintances and friends, it’s now a common marketing tactic used in email campaigns, and can also be used in workplace correspondences.
Examples of PS in Letters
Below is an example of a “PS” used by Ronald Reagan in a letter to his son, Michael, shortly after Michael got married.
. . . Mike, you know better than many what an unhappy home is and what it can do to others. Now you have a chance to make it come out the way it should. There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.
P.S. You’ll never get in trouble if you say “I love you” at least once a day.
Then there’s this colorful love letter from Elizabeth Taylor to husband Richard Burton, written shortly before their divorce. (This one’s even got a “P.P.S.”).
My darling (my still) My husband,
I wish I could tell you of my love for you, of my fear, my delight, my pure animal pleasure of you — (with you) — my jealousy, my pride, my anger at you, at times. Most of all my love for you, and whatever love you can dole out to me — I wish I could write about it but I can’t. I can only ‘boil and bubble’ inside and hope you understand how I really feel.
Anyway I lust thee, Your (still) Wife.
P.S. O’Love, let us never take each other for granted again!
P.P.S. How about that — 10 years!
What Does PPS Mean?
For the more forgetful among us, here’s some good news! You can in fact add a “PPS,” or “post-postscript” following your first “PS.”
Just make sure that if you’re doing so in an email, it should usually be for effect or for humor, since, as we’ve already explained, you could easily insert the information you’ve forgotten back in the body.
More on How to Write Letters
If you’re not sure how to get started with your letter, check out these 13 reasons to write a professional letter (and how to do it).
You might also want to review some of the best and worst email sign-offs to help ensure you get a timely response.
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