The Great Exclamation Point

In everything from graphic design and website content, to social media and email marketing, the way businesses and brands use exclamation points is more important than you would imagine. Since exclamation points are always received by the reader in subjective ways (some readers will take exclamation points as excitement, and others in anger) businesses and brands need to make conscious decisions on when and where to use them. Feelings like ‘excitement’ and ‘anger’ are just a couple of ways exclamation points are received by readers, they can also be taken as ‘bossy’ or ‘desperate’ etc.

We can all agree that exclamation points are cool. And when they are used with thoughtful intention, they are hella cool. But this article isn’t about how cool they are, this article is more about the ‘why’ and ‘when’ the great and all-powerful exclamation point should be used by a business. Most of you reading this will already be thinking about how you use exclamation points, and most likely thinking to yourself that it’s purely when a sentence or phrase is to be exciting. BUT you’d be surprised at how many people miss-use, and over-use, the mighty exclamation point.

In typical Carl fashion, I’ll be blunt about it. People can use as many exclamation points as they want when speaking for themselves as individuals.  BUT for all of those who speak on behalf of a business or brand, please do that business or brand a favor and don’t abuse the exclamation point. Exclamation points should be respected and used when appropriate. This here is what I’m talking about; when a phrase is followed by several exclamation points, OR when every sentence in a paragraph ends with an exclamation point, OR when a title has an exclamation point, OR when the topic of discussion is not exciting to anyone but the person writing it, these are all examples of how people abuse exclamation points. And in my expert opinion, it’s gotta stop.

The bottom line is that you can only inject so much excitement into a phrase with an exclamation point. Several exclamation points look desperate and pushy. Not every sentence in a paragraph is hyped up so much as to need an exclamation point. And when a business or brand over shares with heavy exclamation point usage, it’s clear that the person writing the content does not understand that you can not force excitement with exclamation points. Fortunately, the businesses I help don’t need to worry about this kind of abuse coming from me. I honor the exclamation point and use it accordingly.

So, in closing I’ll say, the next time you think about using an exclamation point in any of your business’s or brand’s materials, choose wisely, and try to put yourself in the shoes of the person reading it. This is when you will begin to understand how to respect the great exclamation point. Happy New Year!

Written by Carl Foisy

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