Write Right: Say No to Exclamation Points

Write RightI avoid exclamation points like they’re the plague. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll use them in texts, instant messages, or Facebook updates. When it comes to writing a blog post or an article, though, I hate using them. I think they’re a nuisance and, usually, unnecessary.

First, exclamation points are a distraction. They interrupt the flow of an article. Most readers can tell when they are supposed to raise their voice because the sentence structure and context demands it. When the exclamation point rears its ugly head – and how can it not with its unparalleled height – readers are diverted from the reading material to a quandary of self-doubt in which they query if they have been misreading the entire article.

Second, exclamation points are a nuisance. I don’t mind when my friends use three exclamation points to indicate their excitement, but writers should refrain from using excessive exclamation marks in an article that is meant to be thought-provoking. I’m sorry; maybe it’s my education or my age, but I tend to “tune out” when I see an article – no matter how titillating – riddled with exclamation points.

Third, exclamation points are anvils. Their length drops into a perfectly round circle that beats upon the brain. Just in case the reader didn’t know already, he or she is supposed to feel fear or passion. Dropping an exclamation point at the end of the sentence doesn’t mean that the reader is going to feel those emotions, though. The sentence has to build the emotion first.

Exclamation points do have a place and time. For instance, they are necessary in written monologues and dialogues. They are perfect for texts – nobody has time to create and sustain an emotion in 140 characters. They serve a purpose in informal conversations, such as the ones that occur in instant messages and on Facebook. My argument is not to abolish the exclamation point from the dictionary of punctuation marks; rather, it is to ensure that the exclamation point’s use is limited and warranted in any form of communication.

Have a grammar wrong in need of righting? A question about the writing life or process that needs an answer? Submit your wrongs and questions on the Write Right Facebook page.

Comments

  1. I do use exclamation points, but sparingly I hope:) Cheers! Kaarina (and as you know, I always sign off with Cheers! Just how I roll)

    •  @KDillabough That, my dear friend, is a perfectly acceptable use of the exclamation point. 🙂 Cheers to you, too! 
       
      I can’t say I’ve ever felt bombarded with exclamation points at your place. You use them when they’re suitable.

Trackbacks

  1. […] One of my favorite homework assignments in the third grade was using the week’s vocabulary list in some sort of story. I found the assignment to be entirely too much fun. I don’t think I enjoyed the endless repetition of writing the words and their definitions, but I did like using them in sentences. To this day I enjoy such assignments, although they’re never quite as strict. It’s usually some sort of exercise I create for myself in which I have to use a certain word, a type of phrasing, or even a punctuation mark, such as the dreaded exclamation point. […]

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