Uncommon Punctuation


Exclamation Marks

Student writers often overuse exclamation marks, especially when writing short stories. What they don't realize is that an exclamation mark anywhere in a paragraph of dialogue adds emphasis to all the surrounding sentences, both forward and back. Consider the following examples:

The reader gets it. Jenny's lines are spoken with urgency. And it really doesn't matter whether the exclamation mark is placed at the end of her first sentence, or at the end of the second. However, placing an exlamation mark at the end of both sentences tends to look amateurish. You wouldn't want to write it like this.

It's hard to convince middle school students that they use too many exclamation marks (and I'll admit that I sometimes overuse them myself!). But you don't have to take my word for it. Do a Google search for:

You'll find hundreds of articles like this one:

Read enough of these articles, and you'll eventually conclude, like I did:

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.