Why I hate excessive exclamation marks
Friday, December 14, 2018
You know the type of copy. We’ve all read it. “This is a great special offer! We’re here to help! Call us now!!” Whilst liberal use of exclamation marks can be forgiven in personal emails and social posts, what about business copy? I have a point of view. Read on to hear it.
Defining an exclamation mark
Back to basics. The definition of an exclamation mark is to indicate an exclamation.
What’s an exclamation? An expression of surprise, shock, excitement, fear, pleasure, and so on.
So, when I see a company’s email enter my inbox with 10 exclamation marks for every 100 words – even double !! in places, am I to assume that they simply cannot contain their excitement?
As the reader, I’m always left a little, well, irritated at a message delivered in this way.
Bah humbug? No, not really. But I do think there’s a better way.
What’s my hang-up with over-use?
You see, certain people will insert excessive exclamation marks to try and appear as friendly as possible. It’s like a smile after every sentence. Or a cheesy grin if you like.
I get that. But the English language is far more comprehensive than a few !!!! to appeal to your readers.
I think it’s lazy.
Let me be clear. I like using the exclamation mark. In moderation, it’s powerful. But excessively, to me, it’s irritating and uncreative.
Time-served copywriters have learnt many ways to weave expression and tone into copy. That might come down to sentence structure, variety in punctuation and a healthy balance of techniques across the page.
There are no-end of ways to write warm and friendly copy without littering it with !!!!
The trouble with a trend
There’s a growing problem though.
As time passes, and a lack of writing creativity creeps in, we’re becoming de-sensitised to seeing excessive exclamation marks. Three are turning up where one would do, and one is just kind of, normal.
So, am I flogging a dead horse here?
Well, no actually. Think about some good copy that you read recently. Copy that made you stop and read. Was it littered with exclamation marks? No, it wasn’t. Because fundamentally, we still react better to more creative copy. Copy that has received the time, thought and planning it deserves.
And that’s why my horse is well and truly alive.
Which camp will you fall into?
Why not take some time to critique your own copy? Have you fallen into the exclamation trap? Will you accept that as the status quo, or look to stand out with greater creativity?
The detail does matter. And it does make a difference. To your business performance and to your customer’s perception. Would you like a hand at improving both? I’d be delighted to get involved! (Yes, I’m expressing warmth and excitement there.)
P.S. In a few years’ time, I fear that I’ll be writing about the excessive use of emojis in business copy. Please prove me wrong.