A post with a point!

May 6, 2008 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

Sally Saville Hodge

Pet peeve No. 322: People who use exclamation points to excess!

(It’s funny how, the older you get, the more crotchety you get, and that list of pet peeves seems to get longer and longer.)

I started thinking about the insidious exclamation point upon reading Word Wise, a must-read blog on writing and style by Edelman PR’s Dan Santow. A recent post pokes gentle fun at Hamilton, Ohio for formally changing its name to Hamilton! Ohio (yes, really!), and uses the occasion as a (ahem) point of departure for when and how to use it to best effect.

While I’m not one to discourage the enthusiasm that this device implies, it’s typically a sign to me of an entry-level or not-very-creative writer, whether it’s being used in an article, press release, advertising copy or even e-mail.

Wait a minute.

In the spirit of total honesty, I have to admit that while I use the exclamation point sparingly in my “official” copy, I’ve recently found myself reading my e-mails before hitting the send button to remove an overabundance of the things. (*Mental slap on the side of the head: “Really, Sally, four sentences and all of them ending on this kind of upbeat note?”)

It’s all about using such devices for effect. The rules should still apply whether they’re being used in casual correspondence, like e-mails, or more formal writing, like reports. And, really, the rule here (as well as in utilizing dashes and ellipses, which I also abuse) is pretty simple: Don’t overuse or you lose the effect!

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Entry filed under: Writing/Editing.

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