Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

A to Z Challenge, 2014: E is for Extra Exclamation Ecstasy

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910Oh Heck! Another Quirky Writing Error

When I was in high school so many long years ago, my girlfriends and I loved to dot the letter -i- with little circles or hearts as an expression of our creativity and independence. The boys thought we were just being show-offs and teased us, but we just laughed at them and their own sloppy writing.

Another fad was to use an excess of exclamation points at ends of sentences in love notes, letters, essays, and reports, or other homework assignments.

Sally loves Johnny!!         Sally loves Harry!!!        Sally loves Joey!!!!   

Sally loves Sam!!!!!

Cute, but oh so high school. Definitely not cute in adult writing.

Here’s the rule:

An exclamation point at the end of a sentence indicates strong emotions or high volume. It can also be used at the end of ironic statements. The Chicago Manual of Style states that exclamation points should be used sparingly to be effective.

F. Scott Fitzgerald reportedly disliked exclamation points and urged writers to cut them out of their writing. “An exclamation mark,” he supposedly said, “is like laughing at your own joke.”

Genevieve Graham, in a blog post on entitled “Hurray a Blog about Excess Exclamation Points. How Exciting!” suggested that the ultimate function of an exclamation mark is “to provide an editor with one more thing to delete or replace.”

However, if you really want to be cutesy on special occasions, here’s a font you can use

Your turn: What quirky errors do you find in writing? Which ones annoy you the most?
Janice Hall Heck is a retired educator and now nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ.


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6 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge, 2014: E is for Extra Exclamation Ecstasy

  1. I am book-marking your blog! I really wanted to put 4 or 5 extra exclamation points here. So you know that I am very excited about it. Great theme for the blogfest. With great respect! A.

    • Thanks so much for this encouragement. I have had a frustrated couple of days with my computer, but I think I have managed to get things figured out (my wireless keyboard needed new batteries!). Now I can finish a couple of posts that have been stacked in the queue. Thanks for your visit.

  2. Exclamation marks should be overused, like, totally never! 😉

    I also find it interesting how speakers of other languages use exclamation marks. For instance, Spanish has the upside-down one at the start of a sentence, which, I think, makes a lot of sense, since you’re warned early on that it’s something worth exclaiming about (instead of having to mentally go, “oh, my inner voice should have emphasised that a bit more”). French has a space in front of some punctuation marks (must be confusing for Canadians when to use the space…), and in German, any imperative must have an exclamation mark, even if it’s said with complete boredom.

    Some of my personal “anti-favourites” are the ones I posted about at http://amosmcarpenter.com/2014/03/03/10-common-mistakes-writers-shouldnt-make/ about a month ago, but I certainly agree that overuse of exclamation marks always looks like a sign of immaturity in formal writing.

    • Thanks, Amos. I’ll go on over and visit your blog. And thanks for the comments about other languages and punctuation marks. I kinda like the Spanish idea of having an exclamation at the front for the reason you pointed out. Hadn’t thought of that before. See you again? I hope so.

  3. My pet peeve? Quotation marks were they don’t “belong.” Great post.

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