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Exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last year, my daughter was taught about reading exclamation marks – that is, if she was reading something out loud and saw an exclamation mark, she knew to raise her voice at the end of that sentence.

Today, I was asked how to stop using too many exclamation marks in writing – and I found it an interesting question!

I can’t say how many exclamation marks is too many – it depends on the length of the document and the context, of course. But over use of exclamation marks can cheapen the impact of your message, making it look like hype and unprofessional. An exclamation mark shows a statement as something a bit out of the ordinary – a lot of them and all those statements become ordinary.

If you use exclamation marks because they are fun and help you express yourself, I suggest you still use them as you write – and then go back and remove many of them as you edit. This way, you still have the fun of adding them but can moderate it before anyone else reads your writing.

However, if you use exclamation marks to emphasise your points, perhaps you need more faith in the message and how you present it. A strong statement is strong whether or not you add an exclamation mark.

Here are some ideas for changing your writing to reduce the need for exclamation marks:

  • use very short sentences to express important points
  • make the sentence very clear – exclamation marks should enhance the emotion of the sentence rather than provide it
  • put a single sentence as a paragraph for emphasis
  • use bullet points to make a series of points
  • headings and sub-headings are already visually different so they rarely need an exclamation mark
  • use positive words and expression, including adjectives, to show your enthusiasm

Use your words wisely, and you will find less need for exclamation marks!

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