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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (February 27, 2007)

Be Wary of the Exclamation Mark!

Lynne Truss, in her bestselling book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, says an exclamation mark, "shouts, flashes like neon, and jumps up and down," and is like a "brother who gets over-excited and breaks things and laughs too loudly."

Whew! Well, she does agree that "involuntary ejaculations" (meaning when we say Wow! or Phew! or some such thing) are okay.

Other reasons to use an exclamation? To exclaim about something (That's great! or Thanks a lot!); to salute someone (My friend!); to add drama (That's not what I meant!); to take something commonplace and emphasize it (I really want that ice cream!); and lastly, to avoid misunderstanding when being ironic (I didn't mean it!).

Remember: In the world of journalism, an exclamation mark is known as a "screamer, a gasper, a startler."


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