There’s an article in The New York Times you must read if you’re at all interested in good writing. Not just because it’s written well but because it reveals an interesting trend in punctuation.
Ben Yagoda, a professor of English at the University of Delaware, notes that “online writing begets exclamation points. A lot of exclamation points!” This punctuational style is easy to mock, but in his view, it serves a purpose. Ending a sentence with an exclamation point adds some pizzazz to online writing. Adding another and another can raise one’s voice above a whisper.
Mr. Yagoda seems particularly interested by an exclamation point-question mark combination (QEC), which he believes is encouraged by the Internet. A symbol for it, known as the Interrobang, enjoyed brief popularity in the 1960s but never really caught on. Now, however, the combination—either exclamation point or question mark first—seems to have found a happy home online and, “to good effect, in books and essays.”
If you love that comic-book style of expression, the QEC may be for you. When I think about using exclamation points, though, I remember a former boss. He regarded them with a jaundiced eye, considering them to be a sign of weak writing. I once presented him with a piece that contained one and never that did again.