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Old 15th May 2009, 10:35 AM   #1
Denise
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Default Using Exclamation Points In Copy

I was wondering what criteria the members here use when they place exclamation points in their own copy.

For example, one copywriting training program I've gone through says you should never use exclamation points because they actually lessen the emotional impact of your message.

But I'm going through your copywriting course, Karon, and I see that you aren't afraid to use a well-placed exclamation mark.

Are there certain rules that should be followed for exclamation points?

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Old 15th May 2009, 10:52 AM   #2
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Taking my course? Excellent! How far along are you? Hope you're finding it helpful.

Well-placed is the key. While I am not afraid of exclamation points, I hate it when a write ends every sentence or every other sentence with them. It makes the copy look cheesy and spammy.

I can't really define a set rule. If I feel the need (and I mean NEED) to use an exclamation point, I check the copy carefully to be sure I'm not overdoing it.

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Old 15th May 2009, 12:24 PM   #3
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I just stumbled upon this perfect example of how I would *not* use an exclamation point.

This is from http://www.beadalon.com/BaseBails.asp

Quote:
Pinch Bails are a clever little finding that makes it easy to create a necklace or dangle! Use with any bead approximately 5mm to 8mm.
(Not to mention it has a typo... should be "make" and "makes.")

What's truly exciting about that? To me that's not enough to constitute an exclamation.

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Old 15th May 2009, 10:49 PM   #4
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E-mail and electronic messaging have certainly corrupted appropriate use of punctuation as well as spelling and grammar. It creeps into the off-line world as well. On the way to a football game a few months ago, we drove by a church that had erected 10-foot high letters on the side of their church that reads, "Jesus Lives !!!". I mean, this was high-quality, expensive signage.

Because, you know, four exclamation points would have been gaudy ...

But Karon's message is spot-on: nothing erodes credibility like poor grammar and punctuation. If you can't get that right, how can they trust that you're going to get anything else right?

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Old 21st May 2009, 03:30 PM   #5
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I've trained with John Carlton, and he says to NEVER use exclamation points in the body of the copy. The ONLY exception is the headline.

It's really interesting, actually... I'll go back to edit later and realize what a bigger "umph" a period has versus an exclamation, because it's just so... understated.

(I'm a copy nerd, I get excited about these things )

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Old 22nd May 2009, 01:27 PM   #6
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We forgive you.

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Old 28th May 2009, 04:12 PM   #7
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Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts everyone. I really appreciate your insights... He he, I will remember that four exclamation points in a row just might be overkill. :-)

Karon, thanks for the specific example. I am finding your course tremendously helpful... I'm about halfway through. I've never enjoyed writing copy, and I think it will help me a lot to have a step-by-step strategy I can follow. I do write articles and press releases, and I've already discovered some gems on including bizarre keyword phrases in effective ways.

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Old 28th May 2009, 04:19 PM   #8
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You are most welcome. If you need more tips on clever keyword use, you can try www.WritingWithKeywords.com. It's specifically written for that purpose.

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Old 1st June 2009, 11:53 PM   #9
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I'm VERY careful about exclamation points in my copy. If you have more than the occasional exclamation point--and especially more than one in a row--it will seriously damage your credibility. People are seriously skeptical these days.

The general rule is, if you feel like you NEED to have an exclamation point to make the statement more powerful, then you need to rework the statement. And ironically a powerful enough statement will only be weakened by an exclamation point.

Personally, I rarely use them in headlines. I don't want to risk sounding hypey, and putting up walls of skepticism before I even have a chance to make a connection.

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Old 13th September 2009, 11:42 PM   #10
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Hello,

I once heard Ben Settle say that pretend you are talking to your mother.
If you were talking to her would you shout at her with every other sentence?
If every other sentence ends in an exclamation mark then that is basically what you are doing. Shouting at your reader. If the sentence has gusto it will carry itself with a simple period. Definitely limit the number of exclamation marks.

So far it's working well for me.

Best of luck to you,
MacB

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