I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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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!

Check presentation

I often mention checking the details, expression and grammar of your business communications. It is also very important to check the presentation as well as that is one of the first things people notice before they even read a word.

Checking means in the final form as well as in drafts, too.

I know I have prepared something carefully on my computer, checked everything carefully and then uploaded it the internet to find it does not present properly live. Sometimes it was something simple like a bad image reference, but other times I couldn’t find a fault, only a solution!

This is why good printers and designers will provide you with proofs before printing starts, just to be sure nothing has moved or changed colour during the preparation process. When checking proofs, you have to be very focused and detail orientated.

I followed a link to a website recently. The entire site was a blog (and we’ll leave having a blog as your business website for another discussion) and I read through a few pages of it. One page was an article listing 10 points that literally looked like:

  1. 1. this is our first point
  2. 2. and our second point…
  3. 3. and so on…
    11. closing paragraph one
    12. closing paragraph two

To give her the benefit of the doubt, I assume she had the article written elsewhere with one set of numbers, added it to her blog and selected numbered list again. Human error, probably; carelessness to not check the final result, definitely.

What is possibly worse are the sites you visit to find little red crosses instead of images, even when you visit again months later. It certainly gives the impression that they never look at their own site or pay attention to details – which is probably not a good impression to give prospective clients.

In my next post, I will cover some of the details I always check for in a final presentation draft.