Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

How Punctuation Affects the Way Your Message on Hold Program Sounds

Punctuation marks with magnifying glass and emoticonsWhen you write for print, you can take a lot of risks with grammar and punctuation. When you write a script to be read out loud, the rules for "proper" punctuation change. Your Message On Hold program, for example, is written to be read out loud by a professional voiceover talent in a conversational tone. You can't write a Message On Hold program the same way you write a brochure. It doesn't sound quite right and your callers just won't get it.  By using the right punctuation, you can dramatically change how your on hold programming sounds.

Common Punctuation for Message On Hold Programs

  • Comma (,): a small pause in the middle of a sentence.
  • Semicolon (:): a large pause between two complete--but connected--thoughts.
  • Period (.): a large pause that finalizes a thought.
  • M-Dash (-): a large pause, emphasizing what comes after the dash.

Important formatting considerations for scripts

  • Ellipsis (...): Often indicates a musical break. It should not be used to add a pause, as this can confuse production teams and voice talent.
  • Bulleted or Vertical List: Ideal for a long list of products, services, or details. Using a bulleted list instead of commas or semicolons helps ensure a clean read.
  • ALL CAPS: Words are often written in all capital letters to add emphasis (not volume). Text formatting like bold or italics is often lost, but capital letters are not. 

The difference between writing a script and writing for print is that scripts must be written for the ear and written for effective delivery by voice talent. When you create a script that's listenable, your callers will better understand your business.

Free Download:  Guide to Effective Scriptwriting for Message On Hold and Telephony


Tags: message on hold, tips, scriptwriting