• Kris Pepper

Let Me "Exclaim"

Ok, call me a total geek…but I watched a show about exclamation points last night. Yes. I did.

Did you know that over generations linguists, editors, and writers have wrestled with the fact that exclamation points represent such a variety of emotions? There is the true exclamation: “Hark!” Yet, the pipe and period also punctuate emotions like: “Help!” or “Yay!”

Anger, excitement, call-outs, commands, or a simple hello can all be correctly punctuated with the exclamation mark.

This poor little guy didn’t even have its own key on the typewriter before the 1970’s. Typists had to type a period, backspace and then add an apostrophe above. I am happy to say that by the time I was keyboarding, the exclamation point had a prime position over the number one.

What about the interrobang?! Have you ever used it?! I'll bet you have! It's not a standard punctuation mark, but, it's this: ?!

Today, the use of exclamation points is in overdrive. Advertising, movie titles, email subject lines, and friendly messages usually have a wealth of them. Studies show that in today’s world of digital messaging, the explanation point has become the equivalent of a friendly wave or smile: “Hi!” However,

if you use too many, you may look spammy: “Click Here for more Information!!!!!”

The takeaway is, enjoy your exclamation and interrobang. Don’t overuse them. But they may play a part in your day-to-day messaging when used appropriately. Go back and review your emails after you write them and make sure the tone is warm and conversational. A friendly "hello!" never hurts!


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