Exclamation Points: Proper or Excessive Punctuation?

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Exclamation Points: Proper or Excessive Punctuation?

Anyone interested in improving their writing can benefit from learning the correct way to use exclamation points and when to rethink this punctuation mark.

The correct way to use exclamation points and when to rethink this punctuation mark - noted in essay writer help.

Exclamation points in sentences can be used in a variety of ways and serve many purposes. But despite their versatility, exclamation points can be overused – and sometimes even send the wrong message to readers. That’s why understanding proper use and punctuation rules for exclamation points is important for improving writing skills.

Here are the correct ways to use (and not overuse) exclamation points, along with the general rule for punctuating sentences containing exclamation marks with quotation marks or parentheses.

Improving Writing With Exclamation Points

When a writer wants to show emphasis, irony, surprise, or another strong emotion, an exclamation point is usually appropriate. Exclamation marks might also follow a command, such as “Stop!” Sometimes exclamation points are used in place of a question mark, like in the case of a rhetorical question or an exclamation posed as a question (i.e., What was I thinking!). Whether or not to use an exclamation point, however, is ultimately a decision for the writer.

But that’s not the case when it comes to punctuating sentences containing exclamation points. One thing many writers want to know is, should an exclamation mark be inside or outside of quotation marks and parentheses? The general rule is to place an exclamation point inside only when it is part of the quote or parenthetical text. The following examples show correct punctuation of exclamation points:

  • She shouted, “Hurry Up!”
  • Can you believe that Tom said, “I don’t know”!
  • The prize was awarded to our team (yes!).
  • That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen (or heard)!

When to Rethink Exclamation Marks

The Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition) states that an exclamation point “should be used sparingly to be effective.” Not only does this refer to using too many exclamation points in a piece of writing, but it also means that an exclamation mark is best reserved for a text that truly needs it. The subtlety of a period may satisfy the reader and get a point across more effectively than an exclamation mark.

Times to avoid an exclamation point include:

  • when the text already has one or more exclamation points, especially in close proximity
  • when the exclamation isn’t meant to be forceful
  • when the emotion expressed isn’t strong enough to justify an exclamation mark in business and report writing
  • when a writer can’t decide whether or not to use an exclamation point (go without)

Finally, the Chicago Manual of Style discourages the use of an exclamation point “added in brackets to quoted matter to indicate editorial protest or amusement,” since this practice may be regarded as contemptuous. The Latin word sic, in brackets, is a better option but should be used only to indicate an error in the original source that might be viewed as a typographical or transcription error.

Exclamation points serve many purposes, but overused, they can harm the quality of the text. Used sparingly and correctly, on the other hand, exclamation marks can help writers write more effectively.

For more information on improving writing skills, see:

College Essay Help

Economy of Language