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Informality and the folly of runaway punctuation

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Informality and the folly of runaway punctuation

Punctuation BunniesWriting on the Web is, and should be, informal. Sure there are points at which you need to be overtly formal - such as writing for JAMA - but a more informal approach is the default. The Web is an intimate medium, and by and large, should be treated as such.

That being said, I'm seeing an increasingly prevalent issue with punctuation. It is multiplying with lapine prodigiousness!

If one exclamation point is good, would not three be more forceful?

No.

If a question is especially difficult, wouldn't it be best to add additional question marks?

Nein.

Isn't it best to give extended pauses even more periods than the three (3!) in an ellipse?

Non.

If I'm feeling especially forceful, yet quizzical, how about two or three sets of question mark/exclamation point pairs?

Nei.

Oddly, these questions never come up regarding commas. This,, looks blatantly wrong to nearly every user of the English language. How does this become just as acceptable?? This isn't acceptable either!!! Or this!!!! Perhaps you are getting the drift...... Right?!?!

Sadly, there is no help from Spellcheck on this issue. Even with the settings cranked to the point it won’t accept contractions, it has no problem with multiple punctuation marks. A shameful situation.

I'll admit I'm on a bit of a soapbox here. Most of these errors are usually cleaned up in editing. At least, they usually are on the sites I tend to edit. Every once in a while, I will see these errors in final copy.

Informality on the Web is a good thing, but it is best not to let yourself be carried away. It will distract from your message.

(Post note: I really detest grammar snobs, and it pains me to act like one. Please accept my sincerest apologies. I’m only here to help.)


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