At the risk of sounding totally geeked-out, I hate exclamation points. I like clean, fluff-free copy. When I see unnecessary or excessive exclamation points, it’s my equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. Most of the custom content I write or edit at Parthenon is straight-forward, so exclamation points rarely crop up. They’re pretty rare in newspaper and magazine writing as well. But e-mails — professional and personal — now that’s a different story.
I’m picking on exclamation points because they’ve gotten the better of me in recent months. I can’t help it. They’re everywhere. Last week I sent an email to a client with three exclamation points (OK, four if we’re counting the subject line). What, save winning the lottery, could warrant that many? Nothing. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed when the recipient wrote back with less enthused-punctuation.
It’s my job to please customers. As a project manager, I’m constantly asking for materials and following up. So it’s nice to get something approved or receive information I’ve needed for weeks, but that’s no reason to go nuts, or “!!!”. By definition, exclamation points should show emphasis, surprise or emotion.
Starting today, I’m going back to old trusty: the period. Exclamation points should be used sparingly in professional emails and copywriting. Next time you go for the Shift + 1 keys, ask yourself if you really need it.