Spelling, Misused Words, and Punctuation – Oh My!
Next to more glamorous errors, like spelling mistakes and misused words, punctuation is often overlooked. Without punctuation, communication would be one long string of incoherent thoughts and ideas.
So come along with us as we kick off a new series with the excitable and occasionally overbearing exclamation point.
Many will use the exclamation point (a.k.a. the exclamation mark) excessively and overdramatically. In these cases, readers question the author’s credibility as well as whether they can actually trust the author’s claims.
For example: When done effectively, prewriting makes writing so easy!! All you have to do is add a little polish here and a transition there and voila! Your article is ready for submission!!!!
In the example above, the only proper use of the exclamation point was: voila! Why? The exclamation point should be reserved for exclamations, commands, and the occasional sound effect, not statements. Let’s break this down further.
An exclamation is a loud remark (with strong feeling), such as a complaint, protest, outcry of surprise or pain.
- “The party was amazing.” (statement) vs. “What an amazing party!” (exclamation)
- “I was surprised.” (statement) vs. “Oh my!” (exclamation)
- “It’s your birthday.” (statement) vs. “Happy Birthday!”
A command is an order that is given or to direct with authority.
- “You should go.” (statement) vs. “Go!” (command)
- “Please don’t do that.” (statement) vs. “Stop it!” (command)
- “Have a seat.” (statement) vs. “Sit!” (command)
To convey sudden actions or loud noises, use an exclamation point.
- “Bam! Pow! Thwack!”
And Other Exclamation Point Tips
- Informal Writing – While an exclamation point can add emphasis and/or add a little excitement to your writing, using exclamations in formal writing is generally abhorred. For example, the people of Wisconsin may be excited about their state, but exclaiming it looks a little silly: “Wisconsin became a state in 1848!”
- 1 Will Do the Trick – One exclamation point will suffice. “I love you!” has just as much emphasis as “I love you!!!!”
- “Inside!” – When an exclamation point belongs to a quoted or parenthetical sentence, it belongs inside the quotation, parentheses, or bracket. For example: “Get thee to a nunnery!” Hamlet exclaimed.
Use these tips to strengthen your writing skills, as well as maintain your credibility as an Expert Author. If you find yourself trying to spice up your writing or want to add emphasis, try adding more descriptive information using active language. And when the situation calls for it: Enjoy!