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An exclamation is a shouting stop, used at the end of an emphatic command or interjection. The mark is often overused.

  • To Get Attention, Don’t Shout.

If all stop signs had exclamation marks, the mark would lose its effectiveness. You want to communicate urgency and importance with action and dialogue, not punctuation. Limit your use to one-word exclamations in which the mark might be considered part of the spelling.

  1. Juliet said, “I want a divorce!!!” (Never try to turn up the volume and gain attention with multiple exclamation marks.) “No!” Juliet threw her half-full wine glass, shattering it against the restaurant wall. “I want a divorce.”
  2. Eeyore stared at the ground like he had lost his best friend. “Wow! Wow.” He spoke in a slow, despondent tone. “I’m so-o-o happy!” happy.” (The pessimistic donkey from Winnie the Pooh wouldn’t use an exclamation, not even for one word.)
  3. “Johnny!” Mom yelled. “I meant do it now!” (In most cases, said is the better word. People do yell words, so the verb would be acceptable were it not for the redundant exclamation marks that are the equivalent of saying, He shouted that he shouted.) “Johnny,” Mom yelled. “I meant do it now.”