The Exclamation Point!

One of the most overused punctuation marks is the exclamation point. It’s used at the end of a sentence to show strong emotion or a command.

Get out of my house. Now!

Holy cow!

Its use by writers was limited in the days of typewriters because one had to type a period, then backspace and type an apostrophe to form “!” Now exclamation points are everywhere, especially social networking.

Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, you should use the exclamation point sparingly (if at all). Overuse annoys and distances the reader. Remember what F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.”

Usage exception: Sometimes an exclamation point is required as part of a proper name. The television game show Jeopardy! and the Internet company Yahoo! are two well-known examples. Movie titles that require the exclamation point include Oh! Calcutta!, Moulin Rouge!, and Airplane! The town of Hamilton! (Ohio) was simply Hamilton, Ohio, until 1986. For whatever reason, the town council wanted an exclamation point in the name.

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2 thoughts on “The Exclamation Point!

  1. Great post! What a coincidence that you should mention Yahoo! because I blog about Yahoo!’s writers every day!! I also use the exclamation point when I write “Yahoo!” but journalists don’t because it looks like a punctuation mark, and not part of the company name, in headlines.

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