Postscript (P.S.) Definition and Examples in Writing

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A postscript is a brief message appended to the end of a letter (following the signature) or other text. A postscript is usually introduced by the letters P.S.

In certain types of business letters (in particular, sales promotion letters), postscripts are commonly used to make a final persuasive pitch or offer an additional incentive to a potential customer.

From the Latin post scriptum, "written afterward"

Examples and Observations

  • James Thurber's Postscript in a Letter to E.B. White (June 1961)
    "If the United States had had you and G.B. Shaw working together, would the country have had the E.B.G.B.'s? If so, it would have been good for us."
    (Quoted by Neil A. Grauer in Remember Laughter: A Life of James Thurber. University of Nebraska Press, 1995)
  • E.B. White's Letter to Harold Ross, Editor of The New Yorker
    [August 28, 1944]
    Mr. Ross:
    Thanks for the Harper advert. from your valued magazine. I would have seen it anyway, but was glad to get it hot from your stapling department. . . .
    I would have changed publishers fifteen years ago, only I don't know how you change publishers. The first half of my life I didn't know how babies came, and now, in my declining years, I don't know how you change publishers. I guess I will always be in some sort of quandary.
    P.S. The de-stapling machine works better than I would have believed possible.
    (Letters of E.B. White, rev. ed., edited by Dorothy Lobrano White and Martha White. HarperCollins, 2006)
  • "At the bottom [of the rejection slip] was an unsigned jotted message, the only personal response I got from AHMM over eight years of periodic submissions. 'Don't staple manuscripts,' the postscript read. 'Loose pages plus paperclip equal correct way to submit copy.' This was pretty cold advice, I thought, but useful in its way. I have never stapled a manuscript since."
    (Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Simon & Schuster, 2000)

The Postscript as a Rhetorical Strategy

  • "When writing a fundraising letter, remember that many potential donors will read your letter's P.S. before the body of the letter, so include any compelling information there." (Stan Hutton and Frances Phillips, Nonprofit Kit for Dummies, 3rd ed. For Dummies, 2009)
  • "Studies reveal that when people receive personal, and even printed, letters, they read the salutation first and the P.S. next. Therefore, your P.S. should include your most attractive benefit, your invitation to action, or anything that inspires a feeling of urgency. There is an art to writing a P.S. I recommend that your personal letters--but not your e-mail--include a handwritten P.S. message, because it proves beyond doubt that you have created a one-of-a-kind letter that wasn't sent to thousands of people. In our age of technology, personal touches stand tall." (Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits From Your Small Business, rev. ed. Houghton Mifflin, 2007)

Jonathan Swift's Postscript to A Tale of a Tub

"Since the writing of this, which was about a year ago, a prostitute bookseller hath published a foolish paper, under the name of Notes on the Tale of a Tub, with some account of the author: and, with an insolence which, I suppose, is punishable by law, hath presumed to assign certain names. It will be enough for the author to assure the world, that the writer of that paper is utterly wrong in all his conjectures upon that affair. The author farther asserts, that the whole work is entirely of one hand, which every reader of judgement will easily discover: the gentleman who gave the copy to the bookseller, being a friend of the author, and using no other liberties besides that of expunging certain passages, where now the chasms appear under the name of desiderata. But if any person will prove his claim to three lines in the whole book, let him step forth, and tell his name and titles; upon which, the bookseller shall have orders to prefix them to the next edition, and the claimant shall from henceforward be acknowledged the undisputed author." (Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub, 1704/1709)

Thomas Hardy's Postscript to The Return of the Native

"To prevent disappointment to searchers for scenery it should be added that though the action of the narrative is supposed to proceed in the central and most secluded part of the heaths united into one whole, as above described, certain topographical features resembling those delineated really lie on the margin of the waste, several miles to the westward of the centre. In some other respects also there has been a bringing together of scattered characteristics.

"I may mention here in answer to enquiries that the Christian name of 'Eustacia,' borne by the heroine of the story, was that of the Lady of the Manor of Ower Moigne, in the reign of Henry the Fourth, which parish includes part of the 'Egdon Heath' of the following pages.

"The first edition of this novel was published in three volumes in 1878.

"April 1912


(Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native, 1878/1912)

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Nordquist, Richard. "Postscript (P.S.) Definition and Examples in Writing." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 26). Postscript (P.S.) Definition and Examples in Writing. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Postscript (P.S.) Definition and Examples in Writing." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 31, 2023).