Ease up on the exclamations for better effect

The mail this week included a short printed newsletter from a local real estate agent. She always includes a chatty page about family and seasonal activities. It is all very heart-warming and she’s a lovely woman.

But! One! short! page! Had 16 exclamation points! In two sections, there were four in four sentences! In another, there were six! I felt quite breathless reading all the excitement!

Not to pick on real estate agents again (as I may have in Is anything stunning when everything is?), but is anything truly exciting if everything is?

I’ve listed before (in Five! Is too many!) some of the places that suggest being cautious about using too many exclamation marks, including:

CP style: Use the exclamation mark “to denote great surprise, a command, deep emotion, emphasis and sarcasm” and not “to end a mildly exclamatory sentence.”

The Canadian Writer’s Handbook: “Try to make your sentences appropriately emphatic without resorting to this sometimes artificial device.”

Here’s an even better reason not to use them with such wild abandon:

“And all those exclamation marks you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head.” (Terry Pratchett, as quoted in a funny piece in the Guardian.)

Image credit: “Idea Go” at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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4 Comments

  1. Sue Ridewood
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I was once told that everyone should be issued one exclamation mark in their lifetime. Once you use it, that’s it for the rest of your life — so think hard before you do.

  2. Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Ooh, now that’s harsh. As tempting as it was to end that comment with an exclamation, you will note that I did not.

  3. Sue Ridewood
    Posted March 3, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I thought it was harsh, too — but what it does do is make you think extra hard before using one. You know, just in case.

  4. Posted March 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    It certainly does make you think.

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