Coming soon to a keyboard near you

I was all set to post a “word of the day” type post using the word dilettante – which is essentially a dabbler in the arts – but not an expert – when James sent an email containing a word/new punctuation mark that could revolutionise the way people express themselves. The “Interrobang” – not only does it have a cool name, it combines a question mark with an exclamation mark. Like so:

 I can see it having all sorts of applications in rhetorical questions. Seriously though, I hate exclamation marks. They are a tool of lazy writers. The in house style guide I wrote for work basically bans them. If you can’t express yourself significantly without telling the reader specifically that something requires emphasis – you shouldn’t be writing. Bolding and underlining are also right out. As is bold underlining.

I also had a long running battle with a guy from work who I will refer to only as the “Capital Punisher” – he knows who he is. Perhaps he’ll find this blog. Capitals, like exclamation marks, are right out – and should only be used for proper nouns and at the start of sentences.

October 7, 2008

In Uncategorized

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Leah Maria says:

I think bolding, underlining and exclamation marks all have their places… it’s just that people make too many places for them these days.

Bolding and underlining are acceptable for formatting (like in headings) in my opinion. Another thing you have to consider is that people are getting worse and worse at reading these days. They are often prone to miss the importance of words. I sometimes emphasise the word ‘generally’ in blog comments because people have gone on rants at me about how there are exceptions to the rule I’ve just stated. I feel like saying “Well yes, I know that, that’s why I wrote ‘generally'”. People don’t read properly. So I’ll emphasise a word by bolding or italicising it if I know people are likely to ignore it or read over the top of it.

Exclamation marks, I believe, are useful in writing speech. (Except in newsprint of course… because exclamations marks just don’t get used there :P).

It means the difference between
“Get out of that tree right now,” she yelled.
“Get out of that tree right now!” she yelled.

Leah Maria says:

oh, and you can get the interrobang in Microsoft Word by using Alt+8253

Nathan says:

I would have thought the exclamation mark was implied by the “yelled” and hence unnecessary.

You wouldn’t say:

“Get out of the tree right now!” she whimpered.

What’s worse is:

“Get out of the tree right now!” She exclaimed.

Leah Maria says:

Actually, I think

“Get out of the tree right now!” she whimpered.

works. It connotes distress.

And do you really think

“Get out of that tree right now,” she yelled.


Nathan says:

I think the exclamation mark is oxymoronic when coupled with “whimper” – and tautological when coupled with “yelled”

I just think generally you can make the point you’re trying to make without resorting to an exclamation mark.

Exclamation marks are basically a signal to your reader that you were trying to make a point with your statement – why not just make a statement that makes a point?

That could probably have been an interrobang.

Andrew says:

I am far too partial to just trailing off in dots…
And of course, the tendency is then to jump to the other extreme!