What Does “PS” Mean and How to Use It in a Letter or Email



So, you find yourself wanting to add a PS to the end of your email or letter. A somewhat vintage gesture that’s made its way into pop culture thanks to the Beatles’ hit, “P.S. I Love You”, and that Cecelia Ahern novel under the same title.


But, when it comes to adding this acronym to your email, what’s the right way to go about it? Not to mention, what does it even mean?

"PS" stands for the Latin phrase post scriptum, which literally translates to “after text”.
Both "PS" and "P.S." are correct. The decision to add periods may depend on the style guide you follow, your audience, and ultimately, your own preferences.
Periods or no periods, "PS" should always be capitalized.

What does “PS” mean in a letter or email?

PS means “postscript”. This acronym comes from the Latin term post scriptum, literally meaning “after text”. Back when people used to handwrite or typewrite letters (and trusted they’d reach their intended audience), PS allowed the writer to include an additional thought, after the letter has been crafted and signed.


Today, PS is still very much in use—both in handwritten letters and emails. Now that you can edit your messages without starting from scratch, including PS is purely stylistic. It’s a great way to leave a personal note at the end, add a touch of humor or reveal an inner truth. You can even add a PPS, meaning “post-post-scriptum”—for the writer with extra afterthoughts.


Examples of “PS” in letters

PS, a sentiment just as important as “Dear,” if not more cherished. Here are a few examples in history of famous people using PS in a letter.


Example 1: Elizabeth Taylor to Richard Burton (1973)


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!


Example 2: Elvis Presley to President Nixon (1970)

Dear Mr. President:


[...]


I am glad to help just so long as it is kept very private. You can have your staff or whomever call me anytime today, tonight or tomorrow. I was nominated this coming year one of America's Ten Most Outstanding Young Man. That will be in January 18 in my home town of Memphis, Tennessee. I am sending you a short autobiography about myself so you can better understand this approach. I would love to meet you just to say hello if you're not too busy.


Respectfully,


Elvis Presley


P.S. I believe that you, Sir, were one of the Top Ten Outstanding Men of America Also.


I have a personal gift for you which I would like to present to you and you can accept it or I will keep it for you until you can take it.

Example 3: Steve Martin to fan, Jerry Carlson (1979) (personalized fan mail)

DEAR Jerry,


WHAT A PLEASURE IT WAS TO RECEIVE A LETTER FROM YOU. ALTHOUGH MY SCHEDULE IS VERY BUSY, I DECIDED TO TAKE TIME OUT TO WRITE YOU A PERSONAL REPLY.


TOO OFTEN PERFORMERS LOSE CONTACT WITH THEIR AUDIENCE AND BEGIN TO TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED, BUT I DON’T THINK THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN TO ME, WILL IT Jerry? I DON’T KNOW WHEN I’LL BE APPEARING CLOSE TO YOU, BUT KEEP THAT EXTRA BUNK MADE UP IN CASE I GET TO Flint.

SINCERELY,

STEVE MARTIN

P.S. I’LL ALWAYS CHERISH THAT AFTERNOON WE SPENT TOGETHER IN RIO, WALKING ALONG THE BEACH, LOOKING AT rocks.



How to format “PS”


Now that we’ve covered the meaning of PS and a few examples, let’s drill down a bit. What should you do when including this small, yet meaningful addition to your next email or letter?


1. You should always write PS in all caps, no matter what your country or style guide is.


2. Periods or no periods? It depends on the style guide you or your editor follows:

  • Merriam-Webster, the Chicago Manual of Style and the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) say the correct format is PS, capitalized and without periods.

  • The Cambridge Dictionary recommends PS as the British spelling and P.S. as the American one.

  • The New York Times uses P.S.


So, both PS and P.S. are correct—up to you to decide if you want to add the periods or not, based on your style guide, audience, and ultimately, personal preferences.


P.S. I prefer capitalizing it with periods because it looks more letter-like and just feels right. And isn’t that what a P.S. is all about, an extra feeling you just gotta add?


Using “PS” in emails: Cool or old-school?


Since modern technology allows us to add any extra info to our emails, what’s the point of having a PS? Shouldn’t you just edit the email to include it? Well, not necessarily.


PS is a stylistic effect that directs your reader’s attention to something specific—maybe even the most important part of your email. According to Professor Siegfried Vogele in Handbook of Direct Mail: Dialogue Methods, the PS can actually be what your audience reads first, not last. Because after all, who doesn’t want to know what you’re really thinking? PS is also very human, which is why it’s used as a popular sales tactic in email marketing. Adding a PS to the end of an email can help create a clear call-to-action, show off a brand’s personality and leave a memorable final note.

So, should you use it in your next personal or professional email? Unless it feels off-brand or inappropriate, like a formal email to your boss or a product update to users, then why not? Ultimately, the PS is like an extra scene at the end of the credits. It feels like a gift. One only the reader should be privy to knowing.


Netanya Bushewsky, Wix Partners Marketing Content Team Lead

Canadian born and raised, classic romantic and forever fascinated by the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Lattes, do they even contain pumpkin?).




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