I worked with a client recently who loves to use multiple exclamation points in his weekly email to the entire organization. I think he thought it showed personality and enthusiasm. He used at least one exclamation point after every sentence, but most had two to three.
I was so distracted by the exclamation points that I couldn’t tell what the emails were about. In my head, I pictured him jumping up and down, frantically waving his arms in the air.
Part of the problem with all those exclamation points is they detract from the times when your web copywriting could really use them. Using the same enthusiasm for a friendly reminder about lunch or the organization’s biggest fundraising event, gives both of the events the same importance. It leaves it up to the reader to prioritize the information.
According to Dictionary.com, an exclamation point is something that comes after an exclamation. An exclamation is “the act of exclaiming; outcry; loud complaint or protest.”
As an example, are the following statements outcries, loud complaints or protests? Not even close.
Reminder! Lunch truck will be here on Friday!!
Don’t forget! Our annual fundraiser will be here soon!! Get your donations in now!!!
With social media and texting, using multiple exclamation points has become much more common. They are used to express excitement, sincerity and joy. However, in business writing, they should still be used sparingly.
What to do instead of over-exclaim
Do you suffer from exclamation point overuse? How can you show enthusiasm and personality without using so many exclamation points? There are many ways. Here are just a few that you can start practicing today:
- Prioritize information – Add headlines like “Important Reminders” and put the most important reminders first. The headline and their position gives them importance.
- Use language that expresses excitement – “Get your donations in now!!!” could be said “I’m excited to announce we are now acceptions donations.”
- List items in chronological order – List events or deadlines coming up soonest at the top of the list
Do you know someone guilty of using too many exclamation points? We’d love to see your examples.