So, you’re writing an email, an article, a white paper, a resume, a cover letter, or any number of other things one might write, and you’re about to use an exclamation mark.


Don’t do it.

Ask yourself, “Do I really need to use this exclamation mark?” The answer is probably “No.”

I understand. I used to have Severe Over Use Of Exclamation Marks-Itis, diagnosed by an editor who called me up at home and said “Do you think you could use fewer exclamation marks?”

I was shocked. Shocked! Was she crazy!? I needed those exclamation marks! For emphasis!

Actually, I didn’t. I stopped using them from that point forward, unless they were absolutely necessary, which, it turned out, wasn’t often – and I’ve been almost exclamation mark free for nearly 20 years. What I learned is that exclamation mark use is lazy – like raising your voice when someone doesn’t understand you, instead of finding a clearer way of saying what you’re trying to say. You can usually find a different way of saying it.

Once in a while, I relapse. I’ll read back something I’ve just written and find misplaced exclamation marks that somehow slipped through. But generally, I’d say I’m pretty good.

Unfortunately, exclamation mark use is still rampant. Fortunately, I just stumbled upon this handy flow chart created by HubSpot that details when you should and should not use one.

Please read it.

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