Exclamation Points
Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation

The Weight of the Exclamation Point

Since I started here as an editor at Xulon Press, nearly eight weeks ago, I have read at least one hundred manuscripts. Almost every manuscript I have edited and reviewed has been nonfiction. They have all been unique in their focus, voice, and message, but almost all of them have contained at least one “common writing error” that I usually have to suggest needs to be changed.

The top three “common writing errors” I personally have picked up on are as follows (in no particular order): overusing the exclamation point, writing words/phrases in all capital letters, and misplacing of the semicolon. So, let’s start with the overuse of the exclamation point.

We all learned about the exclamation point at some point in our lives – when to use it, when to not use it, when it’s appropriate, and when it’s not appropriate. We know that it is used to convey emotion, excitement, or an actual – get this – exclamation. However, a lot of writers will misuse the exclamation point to the point of wearing out its emphasis.

Think of each exclamation point as a block of weight, each representing thirty-three percent of the allotted weight for all exclamation points within your book. If they are each worth thirty-three percent, which means that there are a total of three exclamation points that can be distributed among your book. Not three per page, not three per paragraph, please not three per sentence, but three throughout the entire manuscript. Distributed equally, they will each properly represent their portion of the total weight that they’re allotted and balance out the manuscript. If more are added, the emphasis actually decreases because the exclamation points have begun to lose their weight.

Keep the exclamation points to three per manuscript; use them only when absolutely necessary, and remember that their weight accounts for a lot more when they’re used correctly. A correctly placed exclamation point goes further than any misused or overused exclamation point.


Taylor Graham comes to Xulon’s editorial team with over five years of experience writing, editing, and proofreading. Prior to joining Xulon, she worked as a freelance writer and editor, a copywriter for NBC Universal, and an advertising rater for Google. She is most passionate about the written word, the great state of California, and the Be the Match National Marrow Donor Program.

5 Comments on “The Weight of the Exclamation Point

  1. I know I’m definitely guilty of that
    Thanks for sharing
    I like to learn so I can do better
    I am so happy I had my new release
    FRONT PORCH TALES line edited this time
    It makes a world if difference in how my stories read
    The goal is show and not tell my stories
    I am tickled pink with my 2nd book. I just need it to come by Friday
    Thanks so much
    Barbara L. Vanderstel

  2. I am interested in writing a children’s book. I have the manuscript. I was a child migrant worker now working on my Masters in Spiritual Formation and Leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *