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The exclamation mark (!), known informally as a bang or a shriek, is used
at the end of a sentence or a short phrase which expresses very strong feeling.
Here are some examples:
Examples like these are quite normal in those kinds of writing that try to
represent ordinary speech — for example, in novels. But exclamation marks
are usually out of place in formal writing. Using them frequently will give your
work a breathless, almost childish, quality.
- What a lovely view you have here!
- That's fantastic!
- Johnny, don't touch that!
- Good heavens!
An exclamation mark is also usual after an exclamation beginning with
what or how:
Note that such sentences are exclamations, and not statements. Compare them
- What fools people can be!
- How well Marshall bowled yesterday!
You can also use an exclamation mark to show that a statement is very
- People can be such fools.
- Marshall bowled very well yesterday.
It is also permissible to use an exclamation mark to draw attention to an
- After months of careful work, the scientists finally opened the tomb. It
Otherwise, you should generally avoid using exclamation marks in your
formal writing. Don't write things like this:
- On the (rare!) occasion when you use a Latin abbreviation, be sure to
punctuate it properly.
Don't use an exclamation mark unless you're certain it's necessary — and
never use two or three of them in a row:
- *Do not use exclamation marks in formal writing!
- *In 1848, gold was discovered in California!
This sort of thing is all right in
- *This is a sensational result!!!