Exclamation points are back in favor

A journalist acquaintance described her first reporting job, in the newsroom of a small daily paper with a curmudgeonly, old-school editor.  She turned in a story to him and he called her over to his desk.

“See this exclamation point?”  he growled, pointing at her copy.  “You only get three of these.  Ever.  In your career.  Are you sure you want to use it here?”

Because emails are brief, they risk also seeming brusque.  Thus, while you won’t see exclamation points in my news releases, I use them often in email. They’re a cheery signal of my benign intentions.

Honest to Pete, three days after I wrote and posted this item, the New York Times weighed in on this subject.  Their article quoted Will Schwalbe, co-author of the book “Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better,” who said, “E-mail has such a flattening effect:  it’s toneless and affectless.  The exclamation point is the quickest and easiest way to kick things up a notch, but not if you’re angry.  Only happy exclamation points.”

Have a nice day!


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