Bloody Well Write

March 4, 2009

The exclamation point: What the …!

Exclamation points are fun — but they are potent. Just as you would use caution with anything fun but potent, please use these sons of guns sparingly and with care.

The exclamation point expresses a strong degree of surprise, incredulity or other emotion:

• Boo!
• Holy cow! That is one large ball of twine.
• Schnikies — that was a fun party!
• I’m gonna wash that man right outa my hair!
• Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy! (OK, so it doesn’t work so well here, but check this out.)
• I won the flippin’ lotto!!! (If this is the case, and you happen to be writing out the statement, by all means, feel free to use more than one exclamation point to get your enthusiasm across. For most cases, however, one will suffice.)

Placement with quotation marks
The exclamation point goes inside the quoted material when it refers to that material: “We’re having smashed potatoes and cheese wheels for dinner and you’re gonna like it!” he exclaimed.

It goes outside the quotation marks when it doesn’t refer to that material: I love reading “The Scarlet Pimpernel”!

Other punctuation
The exclamation point stands alone when it comes to ending sentences. Do not add a comma or period after an exclamation point. No matter what.

Placement in advertising
Don’t do it. Much like the sunburst in lame advertisements, it cheapens your product.

Usage: single vs. multiple
If you’ve ever received an e-mail from me, you’ll know that I use this punctuation mark almost as often as I inhale. It’s a habit I’m trying to break, but I’ve at least kept it out of any kind of serious writing (i.e., what I do for a living). People must have outlets, I say, so exclam away in your e-mails — if it doesn’t offend too many people. Just make sure to limit your !!! to the most casual of instances.

Happy trails!



November 20, 2008


OK! So this is the very first word/grammar/language/writing/editing/ranting/pondering blog coming out of the editorial/writing nook at Jajo Inc., the grooviest ad agency in town (not meant to be a plug — simply my opinion, thank you very much).

I suppose that I should mention what this blog is going to be about. The intent is to focus primarily on editing issues — nuggets I have seen throughout my career that either come up as questions time and again, bug the bejeezus out of me or simply are wrong by all accounts. It sometimes will include writing issues, as well. And it sometimes will take me in an altogether different direction than initially intended. So be the beast that is blog.

To spice things up a bit, this blog will go sonic: An accompanying podcast will be floating around the Net — perhaps not quite as often as the blog, but relatively frequent, so check it out. Once I get into the groove, I’ll post a schedule. The current idea is to blog one or two times per week and podcast once every week or two.

Adding fuel to the podcast fire will be Jason Fortune, copywriter extraordinaire, fellow Jajo cohort and general lunatic. Similar to many a lunatic, Jason is as entertaining as can be — if you can follow his thought trail. It’s all over the place. He definitely has moments of genius, so we’ll try to capture some of those during the course of our discourse.

Me? I’ll be playing the straight man in this schtick. And if you’re wondering what makes me an expert on this editing/writing topic, here’s my answer: I’m no expert. I will have an entire blog entry on self-proclaimed experts one of these days, but that’s for another day. Here’s a quick rundown of my experience: master’s degree in English, 5½ years as a proofreader/copy editor at a local ad agency, 2½ years as a marketing copywriter at Hallmark, going on a year here at the ’Jo as editor/copywriter and several years as a proofreader/editor at several other joints. And I, like everyone else on this planet, have a lot to learn, so I’m not an expert, per se. But I follow the AP Stylebook pretty faithfully (pretty, not completely). And I gotta let out some editing steam somehow, right? So this here blog’s my virtual teapot. Toot, toot.

Thanks much for checking it out, and please come back to see what else is driving me nuts. Again, I’ll be adding entries at least weekly, perhaps biweekly — more on schedules to come. And PLEASE leave comments/suggestions/inquiries on the blog. No cussing me out (for I do have control on what gets posted to the site and will have no qualms about barring any caustic replies); workable feedback is what I’m looking for. And don’t forget to tune in to the podcast. Should be interesting stuff. Now, on to the guts of this blog.

Happy trails!


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