I’ve banned exclamation marks from Connect Content, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done!!!
The sentence above sums up exactly why they’re banned.
Putting aside the fact that it reads like it was written by a 14-year-old Belieber, exclamation marks (or ‘screamers’ in publishing terms) are rarely used just to exclaim things, which is a big part of their job.
Instead, they’re mostly employed to underline a lame joke, to highlight something cool, as an attempt to lighten the tone, or to try and get across that ‘we don’t take things too seriously around here’. We might be tax accountants, but we like to cut loose!!!
I think a writer should be able to do all of those things using their skills as a writer. Using exclamation marks as a cheap device to convey tone or attitude makes writers lazy and some golden opportunities to create great, on-brand content are missed.
Plus, the exclamation mark is not to be trusted. It’s dined out for years on being the ‘fun punctuation mark’, which is why people are happy to throw it into their marketing material at will.
Be warned: the exclamation mark can change the image of your business in an instant.
Here’s an example from a client who is a Car Broker, mostly dealing in high-end Range Rovers, and the like. He asked me to do a Web Content Analysis on his website and the first thing I read said this:
We’ll locate the specific car or UTE you need – at no cost to you!
It’s a great offering, but the headline is too shouty and excitable. It’s also a bit bargain basement/dollar store for people looking for help sourcing quality cars.
Remove the exclamation mark and the headline might not be as much fun but it’s calm, assured and much more professional.
We’ll locate the specific car or UTE you need – at no cost to you.
So, should you ban exclamation marks from all your marketing material and emails? Probably not. But you should think about what you’re going to convey every time you hit SHIFT>1.
Will you find exclamation marks in the content that we write for clients? Yes. But they will have been inserted into the copy after careful consideration, and only if using an exclamation mark fits with the brand voice.