Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One of my biggest writing pet peeves.

Many of you may know that I got a degree in English with an emphasis in editing.  Some of you may read my blog and think, "Wow, it sure doesn't show."  And, if you think that, too bad.  In my day, I was one dang good editor.  

In reading blogs and facebook entries, I have become extremely aware of the overuse of many punctuation marks in particular the exclamation mark.  So I am not speaking out of turn, let me point out the following entry on the national punctuation day website.  

“Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald —


The sign used in writing after an exclamation or interjections, expressing strong emotion or astonishment, or to indicate a command.

An exclamation point is used to express strong emotion.
“No!” he yelled. “Do it now!”

An exclamation point may be used to close questions that are meant to convey extreme emotion.
What on earth are you doing! Stop!

An exclamation point can be inserted within parentheses to emphasize a word within a sentence.
We have some really(!) cool tattoos on sale this week.
Note that there is no space between the last letter of the word so emphasized and the parentheses. This device should be used rarely, if ever, in formal text.

An exclamation point will often accompany mimetically produced sounds.
“All night long, the dogs woof! in my neighbor’s yard.”
“The bear went Grr!, and I went left.”

And, it is never OK to use it more than once.  (Notice I used extreme emotion and it didn't require an exclamation mark.  I bet you could just sense it, couldn't you?)  

So, that said, continue writing. 


Queen Elizabeth said...

I need to go on an exclamation point diet. For sure.

Gabriela said...

So, did you like the Seinfeld episode about exclamation points?

Alissa said...

I just read through all the postings on the homepage of my blog. Two !s. One was justified (paying your babysitter $3/hr). One was not (botching a quilting project). But my real problem is the overuse of the comma and underuse of the semicolon, "a handy little chap," according to Lincoln.

And yes, I realize that I did use the passive voice in this comment. Forgive me, Mrs. Cunniff.

Jane Anne said...

I've had this conversation with you before and I can't tell you how many times I have deleted multiple exclamation points because I hear you in my head. I still overuse them though. You should teach an Enrichment Night on grammer:)

Carrie said...

Why stop with a very needed lecture on exclamation points when really you could be relaying very useful information about all aspects of our improper use of grammer and punctuation including the over or under use of commas and the incorrect use of "I" or "me" and of course don't forget to comment on run-on sentences unless one happens to be James Joyce and then all might be forgiven because you might be writing a great work in stream of conscious verse!!! Oh, wait, forgive the exclamation point(s).

Jane Anne said...

oops...grammar...maybe a class on spelling too.