Monday, September 21, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Exclamatory Disorder

I recently realized that I have a rare disease known as exclamatory disorder. I blame social networking. No, really. Although I may be an acceptably enthusiastic individual in real life, put me on Facebook or Twitter, and I go crazy. After a particularly excited message, a friend replied, "very exciting stuff happening. Also, you used a lot of exclamation points." I hung my head in shame. I had ended each sentence with an exclamation. I don't know what it is about online writing that turns me into a veritable cheerleader, but at that moment I knew I needed help.

Acceptance is the first step to recovery right?

Still, I was wandering the networking woods strung out on exclamation. Where could I turn for help? Could I start my own EA (exclaimers anonymous) group? Would that be enough to keep me from relapsing? (Am I mixing my metaphors? Let's say the disorder can also be an addiction, shall we? Okay, proceeding.) Then, I realized. All I needed to do was turn to my trusty orange guide; it would show me the way.

The Chicago Manual of Style states, "an exclamation point (which should be used sparingly to be effective) marks an outcry or an emphatic or ironic comment.

Look out!

Oh, don't worry, just an example.

An exclamation can be used in place of a question mark if the question "is essentially an exclamation."

When will I ever learn not to use exclamation points!

There are also uses for exclamation points with quotation marks, parenthesis, and brackets. The exclamation point should be placed inside "only when it is part of the quoted or parenthetical matter."

While reading tweets, the woman cried, "That girl is much too excited about her weekend plans!"

Her boyfriend actually responded, "It's no concern of mine"!

Jane Doe (I could have died!) re-tweeted the whole story.

Her anguished reply, "I can't help myself!" took them all by surprise.

So there you have it. The proper way to exclaim. Remember, used sparingly, the exclamation can be the perfect end to a sentence. Just don't get carried away!

All examples inspired by Chicago and tweaked to fit the subject matter. ;)

1 comment:

  1. How true!

    I have found myself relapsing into pre-teen usage levels of "like" and "totally" as well.

    At least I still fully spell out words when communicating through social networks. Srsly.