Sunday, April 28, 2013

Too Much Joy in Your Copy?

Last week, a marketer told me about her meddlesome boss.

The more anxious he gets about sales, the more exclamation points he inserts in her copy.

Exclamation points are like canned laughter in a sitcom.

They don’t make the jokes any funnier.

There's little added when the writer tacks an exclamation point onto a descriptive sentence like, "The finest system available today!"

The exclamation point is a Medieval emoticon.

It originated when a monk transformed the Latin word io, meaning “exclamation of joy,” into a symbol by stacking the first letter above the second.

The exclamations of joy in your copy, most writers agree, should be few.

When you use the exclamation point to modify a descriptive sentence ("We're going to dispatch an exploration party!"), you're misusing it.

The same goes when you use the exclamation point to indicate a routine command ("Make necessary preparations!").

Tennessee Williams used the exclamation point effectively in these lines from Camino Real"Make voyages! Attempt them! There's nothing else."
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