Exclamation Marks

When should you use an exclamation mark?An exclamation point on a cell phone

Honestly, you won’t use a lot of exclamation marks in academic writing. The exclamation mark is kind of the equivalent of yelling, and most academic writing situations don’t call for much yelling, though you may feel like yelling about some of your assignments.

However, exclamation marks do serve an important function by adding emphasis to commands or other phrases, and you may find yourself needing the exclamation mark when you write dialog for certain narrative assignments.

You can certainly see the difference between a sentence punctuated with a period and one punctuated with an exclamation mark.

Watch out.
Watch out!

Zombies are coming.
Zombies are coming!

In most cases, you should be careful with exclamation marks and make sure the situation calls for them. They are generally considered pretty informal, and a particularly famous writer had this to say about them:

“Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby

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