The exclamation mark is the drama queen of the keyboard, used to convey excitement, shock and awe.
Every other day I review copy written by professional communicators containing at least one of these extroverts.
I draw my pen and strike a deep red gash through its skinny bod. Okay, now I’m being dramatic. I usually just hit the delete key.
You cry, “But why?!!!”
Because the exclamation mark is an enemy of good copy.
Terrible accusation, but I’ll explain. Positioning an exclamation mark at the end of a dull sentence seems like an easy fix to convey a missing sense of excitement, outrage or horror.
Don’t kid yourself, this could go two ways.
- Your exclamation mark goes unnoticed because your copy is boring and your audience tuned out before they reached it.
- Your audience arrived and took note. Whatever you are peddling is akin to snake oil.
“So I can never use an exclamation mark again?”
Don’t get me wrong. Celebrate the exclamation mark in exuberant text messages to friends and in personal Facebook posts – like when someone gets engaged and you want them to know how goddamn excited you are for them. But if you really cared, you’d give them a call, right?