Yeah, I know it’s Friday. But like I said before, weddings happen. So let’s skip the bickering.
I get heated about a lot of Writing “Wednesday” topics, but this one is easily Top 5.
Exclamations are so overused it actually kills me.
Years are taken off of my life anytime someone ends every sentence in a message with that beautiful upside-down ‘i’.
I understand there’s no hard and fast rule about when and where to use the exclamation mark, but that’s probably because common sense should suffice. Much like the question mark, the exclamation mark serves a very specific, very obvious purpose: to indicate excitement or shouting.
If you’re actually shouting every sentence in a text or email, I need you to not text or email me ever again. And I only mention the shouting part because there’s no way anything is ever that exciting.
To quote one of my (super predictable) faves, F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.”
I’m not mad at exclamation abusers. Just disappointed.
I understand some people have very bubbly personalities and exclamation marks are an easy way to add that vibe, but why not use fun, upbeat words instead?
Don’t rely on that little piece of punctuation to convey all emotion. Make an effort.
There are so many cool expressions you can use to get the same point across. Like, I don’t know, EXCITED or happy, surprised, bouncing off the walls.
Get the gist?
When I first started copywriting, my boss had a “come to Jesus” about my own misuse of the exclamation mark. (We all make mistakes.)
His standard? We’re all given three exclamation marks to use in our lifetime, so add them wisely.
Of course, that’s not meant to be taken literally—at least I don’t think?—but it does encourage you to pause and reconsider every little ! you might otherwise subconsciously add.
“Should this be one of my three?”
Speaking of three, please never use more than one at a time.
If you think about it, you’d use three to denote the extra exciting things, right? But that’s only if you’ve used a single exclamation mark on previous sentences.
SOOOOOO, why not drop the preceding single exclamations altogether and use just one for the extra exciting?
And that is actually exciting.
Title Credit: The Isley Brothers