Don’t Write in Exclamation Points
- On August 13, 2014
I got an email with a special offer to help me manage my money. “Learn how to take control of your financial life! A live webinar, instructional videos, and one-on-one coaching are just the tip of the iceberg! Let me know if you have any questions!”
And then came another email: “It was great to connect! I hope we can work together!”
And another: “You’ve shown yourself to be one of our absolute best users and, as we expand, we’re looking for more people just like you!”
By the end of the day I felt as if I had received one long pitch from a used car salesman.
When we add exclamation points—and we all have the urge (my first drafts are littered with them; I just resisted putting one here)—we’re telling our readers we’re not sure what we’re saying merits their attention. The exclamation point shouts, “No really, pay attention, this is huge.”
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the words we choose—and the pictures we paint with them—can do the exclaiming. I read a piece about college freshmen gaining weight in their first semester, the so-called Freshman 15. “That’s almost a pound a week!” the author expounded. If ever there were a topic that didn’t need to prod its audience to pay attention, it would be weight gain. A pound a week, that’s alarm enough.
Use an exclamation point when you’re expressing something you would say in a raised voice—i.e., exclaim—or might preface with the rolling of drums or the rolling out of the red carpet. In other words, use it sparingly.