Let’s talk about the exclamation point!!
You are overusing it!!!
We get it. You want your writing to convey the ideas and excitement you feel. But your enthusiasm and genuine excitement can be a challenge to put into writing while still successfully getting the message across.
In today’s social media frenzy, this particular punctuation mark is consistently overused. Everyday sentences in texts, status updates and even business emails are displaying an abundance of unnecessary emphasis. And, in professional writing, it can quickly douse that fire of energy you want to share.
What do you want to convey?
The exclamation point, according to Merriam-Webster, is a mark used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate forceful utterance or a strong feeling. Think about your writing for a minute:
- Do you want every sentence to come across as forceful?
- Do you want to sound like a cheerleader with every sentence? Many readers interpret the exclamation point as raising your voice and even shouting.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said using exclamation marks is like laughing at your own jokes. After a while, your readers will simply ignore them – or worse, become annoyed by them. They also tend to lead to sloppy writing. Relying on a punctuation mark to communicate instead of your creative writing leads to shallow, boring and meaningless sentences (read: not good news).
What can you do?
So, how do you craft copy that shows your excitement and lets readers understand the importance of what you have to say without using the exclamation point?
- Try using more vivid vocabulary. For example, “Let me know right away!” doesn’t sound quite as striking as, “It is critical I hear back from you before tomorrow’s deadline.”
- Reword your phrasing. Remember those storytelling skills we said everyone has? Paint a picture if you want to grab your reader and make it exciting.
- Be specific. “You’ll get great service!” Do you believe me? Of course not. You might as throw “really” in there so I know you’re lying. Instead, nix the exclamation point and add details so your writing comes off as trustworthy as opposed to empty.
Let’s be clear: We’re not outlawing the exclamation point. It’s a valid piece of punctuation that should be used when appropriate. However, as a general rule, we’d say it’s only appropriate to use one for each document (or one per 100 pages, if you’re working on something large).
And, please – never, ever use more than one together!
Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long—whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot—we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.