The slammer, or exclamation point, is being used in many social media circles by people who think louder is better. It isn’t. And it’s time to maybe calm down, have some juice and crackers, and establish some guidelines.
1. The reader isn’t deaf. I tell students who take my copywriting course at the University of Hartford to think of exclamation marks as writing for the hearing impaired – it’s just not necessary to yell at someone in print to get their attention. Calmness is cooler. And more convincing.
2. Overprinting the currency devalues it. Ever listen to a comedian who drops an F-bomb in every sentence? It loses its punch fast. Ever see a powerpoint slide with 25 bullets? They lose impact in a hurry. Same with slammers, less is more.
3. Try italics. Granted, styling type isn’t always possible, but when it is, see how italics and boldfacing can apply emphasis without upping the decibel count.
4. Graphic litter. A row of 6 slammers looks like a picket fence got installed at the end of the sentence. It’s confusing. And it robs the actual text of clarity.
5. Pissed? Focus on words. I had an English teacher who disallowed students from using the word “thing.” Her issue was that 95% of the time there’s a more precise word. So if you’re writing in anger, annoyance, inconvenience, or another unbalanced state, get the words down first. They’re the tone and music of your copy. Turn up the volume if you must. But volume distorts at high levels.