Cool It with the Exclamation Points, Sovereign Bank
I’ll admit that complaining about exclamation points isn’t exactly the freshest angle for a copywriter to pursue. But on my way to work today, I saw such an egregious use of this rampantly overused punctuation mark that I have to comment on it.
Outside my local Sovereign Bank — where I’m a satisfied customer, by the way — I came across the sign to your left. The key line being, “TODAY’S CD RATE!”
Now, in some instances, it’s perfectly acceptable to use an exclamation point. For example:
“The Black Sabbath concert last night totally rocked!”
“I just saw Robert Pattinson buying a latte at Starbucks!”
“Help, I’m on fire!”
But more often than not, an exclamation point sniffs of overstatement. And when used inappropriately, it makes you look desperate because you’re trying to liven up something that’s pretty boring to begin with. To wit:
“Our placemats are now available in beige!”
“Our lawn fertilizer now contains 10% more phosphorous!”
“Today’s CD rate!”
Hope this helps.
hi Dan – I just forbade one of my clients from using exclamation points completely. She’s off them cold turkey. I told her that like a knife or a gun, you shouldn’t use !’s at all until you’re licensed and totally know what you’re doing. Otherwise you (and your copy) sounds totally lame and cheesy.
I liken exclamation points to makeup. Used judiciously, in a restrained fashion, they’re fine. But the danger is that in the hands of people like Jennifer’s clients, the copy starts to look like Tammy Faye Baker.