In defense of the exclamation point! - The Write Idea

In defense of the exclamation point!

By Renae Gregoire

Pro or con? Choose your side, and stick with it! 

Have you seen this chart by Hubspot, on when it's okay to use an exclamation point?

You can click in below for a closer view, but what I really want you to see is the spoiler (in the blue box) at the top of the image. 

It says, "Spoiler alert: The answer [to whether you should use an exclamation point] is probably 'No.'"

Should you use an exclamation point?

I strongly disagree!

(And that exclamation points shows you how much I disagree!)

Despite my disagreement, I am sometimes still cowed by ruler-wielding overlords, like the creators of that chart, who keep trying to beat the exclamation points out of us. 

Case in point. I recently found myself editing exclamation points out of an email to a client because I didn't want to seem overly exuberant (even though I am exuberant much of the time. Even now!). 

I edited thoughtfully, carefully, leaving only one or two carefully placed exclamation points intact.

After all, if you can't beat 'em....

Then, soon after, I ran into a Chicago Tribune article by Nancy Anderson in defense of the exclamation point in email messages. In that article, Nancy says she's noticed that people who use exclamation points are responsive, gracious, committed, caring.

I agree!

If you were speaking to me in person, you'd "see" and "hear" my exclamation points all the time.

Like this one!

And this one!

They're part of my personality!

Elaine Benis from Seinfeld knows what I mean!

The same goes for the smiley emoticon.

I use my friend, the smiley, liberally in email messages to illustrate to the reader when I'm smiling ?

Like now ?

I also happen to smile a lot in real life, too. 

So isn't a smiley face warranted?

​A caveat: Although I do go for exclamation points and smileys in emails, I DON'T go for multiple emoticons or exclamations point in a row. 

None of this: I can't believe we're launching a new product!!!!!

​Or this: Thanks a lot!!! I really appreciate it!!! ????

This usage, however, feels acceptable: Can you believe it?!?

In that example, we have two question marks separated by an exclamation point, showing a mix of questioning surprise, better known as disbelief. 

Another caveat: Nix the exclamation points in marketing copy. No one likes to buy from the salesman who's raving on about the Benefits! of! the! Product!

Other than that ... go ahead!

Use those exclamation points! Dot your messages with your smiles!

Those who appreciate a little fire and passion will get it. 

Those who don't ... who cares?!? ?

P.S. This is post #19 in my 30 Day Blogging Challenge! 

P.P.S. Curious? Join my tribe to learn more!

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I think we might be soul mates. And I'd love for you to join my tribe.

When you do, I'll alert you to new blog posts, new programs and products, and new ways for you to create excellent, frictionless, online experiences that lead more people to YES! I promise to be relevant and real, and to send only thoughtful content and advice.

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About the Author

Hi! I'm Renae Gregoire, a digital conversion expert improving the performance of digital marketing content, including websites, landing pages, sales pages, online courses, blogs, and email sequences. If you're a coach, consultant, or other expert having trouble getting people to click, sign up, subscribe, or buy, I can help. My work typically involves a blend of strategy, design guidance, and wordsmithing, with a heavy focus on how your materials look, sound, feel, and function—all from your reader's perspective. Contact me to see how I might be able to help improve your conversions.