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The exclamation point made its keyboard debut 43 years ago.

Don’t worry, pre-1970 typists didn’t have to suppress their anger, surprise, frustration, or delight. To convey strong emotion, they simply topped periods with apostrophes to create what was once referred to as a “bang.” Today, SHIFT+1 makes it easy to communicate your excitement—some might argue too easy. When asking yourself, “To exclaim or not to exclaim?” keep your audience in mind. If you think your reader will mistake a period-punctuated message as a sign of displeasure or disinterest, don’t hesitate to go out with a bang, says Mignon Fogarty, author of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. “There’s no point in being unnecessarily staid if you’re afraid it will offend someone.” We agree wholeheartedly!

 

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