Exclamation Marks Are Illegal. Here's Why

Reviewed a website for a client last week.

On the about page, she did something fun and effective: it was simply a bullet list of statements about herself.

Smart, really. Makes it a fun, punchy read.

The copy was good too: relevant, fun, interesting.

But she ended each line with an exclamation mark – and that’s just absolutely deadly.

Here’s why.

A few years ago I was invited to a webinar about storytelling with some pretty interesting people.

Two weeks of daily calls – all great stuff.

But the host was so excited about everything, that in every 3rd sentence he spoke appeared the word ‘incredible’.

Everything, every person, each new idea, the developments – literally everything was incredible.

There’s a linguistic problem in that, because if you’re going to use the word ‘incredible’, you’d better make sure that what you’re talking about really is incredible.

Mr. Bigshot NYT bestselling author joining the webinar isn’t incredible – it’s awesome, and fantastic, and wonderful. But it’s not incredible – in fact I believe it offhand.


But a bigger problem than the linguistic aspect of it is this:

Constant high energy statements burn your reader up, faster than you can imagine

If every sentence ends with an exclamation mark, or each statement includes ‘incredible’ or if you can’t stop yourself from saying ‘awesome’ at every turn, there are no dynamics.

No high and low, no contrast, no emotional movement.

Instead, you’re trying to persistently keep the reader (or listener) at an incredibly high level of excitement and engagement.

And nobody can keep that up, which means they’ll leave the page.


They say that an adjective indicates the wrong noun was chosen

(Smart, no? Write tight and you don’t need adjectives).

Similarly, a sentence that needs a question mark was written too weakly.

If you do it right, you don’t need to ever use an exclamation mark.

Personally, I rarely, if ever, use them.


Final point: Many people see an exclamation mark, and automatically sense a lack of trust.

To those people, it looks like you’re trying to hard. And obviously, that doesn’t do you any good.

If you look desperate, people stay away.

You don’t need      !!!

All you need to do is write concise, dense, and tight copy.

And that way, you’ll never burn your readers.

How to write like that?

You have me show you how – it’s what you learn aboard Starship Mentorprise, my WriteSpeed mentoring program.

Details here: http://martinstellar.com/starship-mentorprise-copywriting-critiques/








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