As a species we seem to be collectively shunning punctuation. Semi colons; what are they? M what dashes? Ellipsis … So why then are we addicted to exclamation marks!
I’m no exception to this phenomenon. Since casting off the shackles of sub-editors I’ve been throwing them around willy nilly in my emails, tweets and SM posts. Analysing my addiction, it appears I use exclamation marks to indicate where I would naturally stress a word or phrase when speaking or smile and raise my eyebrows to show I’m not completely serious.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t equate with correct usage. Exclamation marks indicate just that: an exclamation. Someone raising their voice or adding an inflection of surprise or shock.
Scattering them through text gives your reader the impression you are always surprised or constantly near-shouting. Not to mention the double whammy of combining them with CAPITAL LETTERS!!!!
Perhaps, it’s not just me. Perhaps the explosion in exclamation mark use is part of our search for ways to bring emotion into writing, since we rely so heavily on text in our day-to-day communication.
That’s fine for casual communication, but until further notice they should be left out of corporate comms – after all shouting at your readers is not the best way to keep their attention.