Excessive Exclamation Points?!!! Who? Me?
I recently received a note expressing concern over my “overuse” of exclamation points: “You might want to reconsider your tendency to overuse exclamation points.” Overuse? Overly emphatic? Me? OK. Fair enough. Still, I requested an explanation. I wasn’t offended by the feedback. I was just curious about the commentary. I sensed a big discussion behind the advice. Alas, I received no reply.
So I began to think about the meaning of my reader’s feedback. I "might" want to reconsider my overuse of exclamation points? Was this a complaint? A soft recommendation? Sarcastic criticism?
At the end of the day, the use of exclamation points is about communicating tone. And tone is largely a matter of taste—as in “there is no accounting for…”
For my part, when it comes to issues of usage and style, I tend to be rather pragmatic: Whatever works, I say!!!
Still, tone is hard to determine in online communication. But then that's the whole point: communicating tone in digital media requires content writers rethink the traditional rules and tools of style - including the use punctuation to project meaning and tone. Effective brand writing across digital channels is a complex issue, one that requires more than placing a ban on multiple exclamation points. Here are some issues to consider.