You’re Ruining the Exclamation Point’s Rep

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Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is an important commandment, and a relevant one at that. Do you abuse the exclamation point? Do you write things like, “I’m sick!!!!!!!!!!” or maybe, “I’m so angry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Maybe you are guilty of abusing everyday phrases like, “Hey!!!!!!!” or “I don’t know!!!!!!!” 

Just set the poor exclamation point down and slowly step away. You have done enough damage already.

Let’s address what an exclamation point is. It is simply used after an interjection to indicate strong feelings or high volume, such as shouting.

Here are some interjections that can use an exclamation point:

  • Wow!
  • Ouch!
  • Look out!
  • Stop!
  • Help!

It can be used at the end of intense sentences, such as:

  • The rat escaped!
  • The war is over!
  • I killed the beast!
  • I’m rich!

Now that you have a grasp of what an exclamation point is, let me explain why it is an abomination to overuse them and repeat them one after another.

The entire concept of an exclamation point is to show the intensity of a situation. When a writer overuses them throughout prose, it takes away the meaning. It devalues the punctuation mark. When a writer repeats the exclamation point over and over (!!!!!!!!), it not only terrifies and distracts the average reader, but it makes the editor want to bang her head on a wall.

Please don’t give editors headaches. Be courteous and tone it down on the exclamation points. Don’t ruin its good reputation.

One last thing: What about exclamation points and question marks combined? Unless you’re Louis L'Amour, just don’t.