Emailers rejoice! I’m about to free you from making a most unfortunate choice.
Ready? Press these two keys: Shift+1
That’s it! Go ahead and do it.
Why? I’ll explain…
I’m on a crusade to save the exclamation point. You may not realize, but it is quickly being relegated to the grammatical boneyard—current home of the misunderstood semi-colon and our dearly departed font friend Comic Sans.
In fact, the other day I overheard a co-worker openly mock another for using too many exclamation marks in an email message. Millennials… (eyeroll.)
Why are we so afraid of the ex-mark? We don’t fear other punctuation.
One theory of the exclamation mark’s origin is that it is derived from a Latin exclamation of joy (io). So be joyous!
Wait, please let me explain my point with passion!
As Liquid’s house grammatical technician I am frequently called upon for clarification on proper verbiage and punctuation. It’s one of the few side benefits to having a Journalism degree (Colorado State ’91, Go Rams!).
Lately, I’ve found myself feeling nostalgic for a dear old punctuational friend: “!”
So listen clear my dear friends because I think this is one of the most important pieces of grammatical advice I know.
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald likened using an exclamation mark to laughing at one’s own joke. This, from a guy who used more than 50 of them in a single chapter of the Great Gatsby. Why be hating, F-Scott?
It’s not about change – there’s much more
I’m fine with change. Even if it means eradicating the handwritten word (including cursive). I don’t fear the use of text abbreviations, OMG, and I occasionally throw emoji around with the best of you.
But I have to stick a stake in the ground for enthusiasm.
As our workplace communication becomes increasingly digitized, autocorrected and mechanized we are all heading down a path where we will soon be communicating like robots.
In fact, it’s already happening. Earlier this year Goldman Sachs announced it was funding an “automated copywriting” startup. Scary!
Why did this become a thing? It sounds like the work of angry, boring people.
Studies show that women use exclamation points more than men… Wikipedia
Are you angry or boring?
If that’s you, please jump to the end of this post. I have a special message for you.
Exclaim, my friends!
You have the power of using the most powerful punctuation mark in the history of mankind. It’s a grammatical superhero. Use it freely!
There is very little room for enthusiasm in workplace communication. We need more of this. If you have a need to shout at someone USE CAPS; or better yet, get out of your well-worn chair, walk over to whomever you’re angry at and face them in person.
Here are some examples of an exclamation mark in action:
- Before: Thanks for all your help. (sounds dry or sarcastic)
- After: Thanks for all your help! (sounds sincere)
- Before: Let’s make it happen. (not really)
- After: Let’s make it happen! (persuasive)
- Before: Yes, you are correct. (yawn)
- After: Yes, you are correct! (enthusiasm and support)
It’s about fun, people. So get over whatever hang-ups you may have about using the exclamation point.
You ask ex point? I say ex yes!
Angry, boring? Offended by my opinion?
In the end, please take note of the fact that this is entirely my opinion and you can have yours.
If you find yourself shaking your head or questioning my stance (you’re wrong), feel free to send me a vitriol-filled tweet @LiquidJeff.
Let’s wrap this up!
Go forward my friends and type the exclamation point. Be happy and excited. Show emotion. Use three!!! Show some sarcasm with the ironic question-exclamation mark combo?!
Let’s not let that little line over a period shame us into the language doldrums. Make it your friend and be free!
And btw… this was just a fun little post, but we have lots of serious things we can discuss with you about content marketing and social listening. So please contact us and let us know how we can help you reach more customers.
About Jeff Doubek
Jeff Doubek is a Digital Content Strategist at Liquid focused on developing and executing content plans as part of the broader UX strategy for website redesigns, and supporting the creation and execution of content strategies for integrated digital marketing campaigns. Jeff is also a lifelong competitive sailboat racer and youth racing coach.