Posted by: Jack Henry | April 23, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Holy exclamation point, Batman!

Is there such thing as too much punctuation? Of course there is! Over the next couple of days, I have a few reminders for you about when to use quotation marks, question marks, and exclamation points.

Today we start with exclamation points.

Exclamation points are used to indicate something is said with emotion and a raised voice; they are a visual cue that something is important and possibly said with force. Here are the conditions under which exclamation points are appropriate:

· When you want to indicate something should be said with enthusiasm or emotion
Example: “You look fantastic!”

· When you are giving a command
Example: “Go to your room now!”

· When you are providing a warning (This is the only example I can think of when we would use an exclamation point in our business writing.)
Caution: Proceeding with this command will delete all of the information in your database!

· Batman sound effects
Example: POW! BAM! SNAP! (Okay, he only uses the last exclamation after a particularly good insult towards Robin.)

As you can imagine, most of those situations are not appropriate in business writing. Keep these things in mind when you are tempted to use an exclamation point:

· Exclamation points are generally used for fiction and informal writing (I just read that 30 percent of the Tweets out there contain one or more exclamation points. That’s a lot of yelling.)

· Just like the Highlander, there can (or should) be only one! One sentence? One exclamation point. The exception to that is Spanish, but until we start writing our documentation in Spanish, stick with one exclamation point.)

· If you are writing dialog, keep the exclamation point within the quotation marks. For example, “Rocky! Come back!”

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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