Exclamations and Exclamation Marks
The dictionary defines an exclamation as a sharp or sudden utterance or
a vehement expression of protest or complaint. The word comes from a verb meaning to cry
out or speak with strong sudden emotion, to speak loudly or vehemently.
The exclamation point, sometimes called an exclamation mark (!) is the punctuation
used following an exclamation.
What the Experts Say
The Chicago manual of style, an essential guide for writers, editors and publishers says, "An exclamation
point is used to mark an outcry or an emphatic or ironic comment. To avoid detracting from its effectiveness, however, the author should use this punctuation sparingly."
The Associated Press Style Book, another reference used extensively in publishing, also warns against overusing the
exclamation point, and suggests the use of a comma after mild interjections and a period at the end of mildly exclamatory
In his book "A Dash of Style," Noah Lukeman says the exclamation point has been referred to as the period that blew
its top, and that it is useful to indicate a direct command, someone shouting, a verbal expression of extreme surprise, extreme
pain, or anger.
"You damned fool!"
"Get out and stay out!"
"We're under attack!"
An exclamation is something said with sharp emphasis, like an outcry or
The exclamation point calls attention to itself like a loud crash of symbols. It is like cayenne pepper—a little
goes a long way, but used sparingly it enhances flavor. And like cayenne pepper, it should come with a warning: Hot stuff. Use sparingly.
For next time: Lose or Loose? Which is right?