Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby Peter » 23 Nov 2015, 10:59

My problem is that I don't know where or how often I should use exclamation marks when a character in my game talks.

Comic books usually use exclamation marks after each and every sentence but I think that is a bit too much. I have also noticed that exclamation marks are not used as much in English as in my mother tongue Swedish. In Swedish it's not uncommon to put an exclamation mark after the initial greeting phrase in a letter or email, but I don't see this as often in English.

Are there any good rules of thumbs when to use exclamation marks in games?
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby Julius » 23 Nov 2015, 11:28

I would say never, except if it is a shouting like expression. But I am also not a native English speaker.
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby andrewj » 23 Nov 2015, 11:41

English does not use exclamation marks much in real life, such as in email or forum posts.

They are often used to drive home a certain point, one which you don't think the other person is believing. You don't believe me? It's true!!

They can be used to express surprise. Hey I did not know that!

In games or literature you can use exclamation marks to suggest the person is very excited or angry. e.g. Wow I found it! You are going to pay for this!!

Hope that helps.
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby eugeneloza » 23 Nov 2015, 13:56

Are there any good rules of thumbs when to use exclamation marks in games?

Well, I think, it's the question of emotional stress of the phrase (yep, English is not my native language, so I might be wrong here). Exclamation marks combined with CAPITAL LETTERS are usually percieved as shouting (vs. bold and/or underlined is used to emphasise a specific word).

e.g.
John! Wow! I haven't seen you for ages!
I won't go with you! Stop bothering me! - Why?!
Hi!
Watch out!
Fire!!!
Get ready to engage on my command. Fire!
When? - NOW!
DIE!!!!!!!!

Sometimes asterik symbols (*) are used to emphasise a specific phrase or smth. like that (usually in negative sense).
I *HATE* you.
If you *EVER FORGET* that again...
compare to:
Ejecting the cargo was a bad idea.
This is important, please, listen carefully.
Pay attention. I don't need a regular barrel. I need a toxic barrel.

I've seen another way to stress each word of the sentence. However, I'm not sure if this is correct.
GET OUT. NOW.
IT. IS. YOUR. PROBLEM.

This is different than in case it is used in more or less formal situations like:
Dear Mr.Edward, please, come in.
Hi, Jane.
Why didn't you come? I was expecting you.
Nice to meet you and your spouse.
Captain? We've got incoming message. It is urgent. - Patch me through.
Nobody comes in or out until you tell me all the details.
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby Akien » 23 Nov 2015, 14:04

Just a small addition, I personally find multiple exclamation marks (like in eugeneloza's "DIE!!!!!!!!" example) highly unprofessional. For game dialogues, "DIE!" conveys the expression just as fine IMO.

The name says it all: an "exclamation" mark is already a very strong marker. So there's no need to put several of them when one wants to express exclamation, one is enough.
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby onpon4 » 23 Nov 2015, 14:54

Formally, an exclamation point represents a strong expression of emotion. For men, that's a raised volume. For women, I think that's a raised base pitch, but I'm not sure (still learning). Also, formally, it isn't acceptable to combine an exclamation point with either a question mark or other exclamation point.

But dialog in games doesn't tend to be formal writing. It's quite common to either use more exclamation points to indicate greater levels of emotion, or to combine an exclamation point with a question to indicate that the question is being shouted. There are really no particular rules for this, because it's against formal rules to begin with.

As for frequency of exclamation points, there's no particular rule on this. Use an exclamation point if it's appropriate. The one thing to look out for is if you're expressing strong emotion or loud volume too often; this can be exhausting to read and look odd.

I'd also like to point out that putting an exclamation mark after a greeting often is appropriate in English. It all depends on how enthusiastic the greeting is.
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby eugeneloza » 23 Nov 2015, 15:04

This article http://www.rightattitudes.com/2006/11/0 ... ion-marks/ suggests stop using exclamation marks at all :)
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby Peter » 23 Nov 2015, 19:19

It's not formal but I want to stick with the spelling and grammar rules as much as possible. I agree that using multiple exclamation marks is ugly. I'm also not a fan of using question marks and exclamation marks together even though it has some merit. Instead I tend to use only the question mark in those situations because it feels wrong to leave out a question mark after a question, even if no answer is expected.

I have considered using no exclamation marks at all. It's a simple rule to follow but I'm afraid it will make it a bit boring.

It's good to hear it's okay to use exclamation marks after greeting phrases, but my problem is that I often imagine the following sentences to carry almost as much excitement. If someone is happy to see you it will influence how they say things, and the same if they are angry with you. Those feelings will not go away after the first sentence.

Here is a made up example of what someone might say when they realize they forgot to feed the cow. What do you think?
Oh, no! I forgot to feed the horse! – Should I end two sentences in a row with exclamation marks?
Oh, no, I forgot to feed the horse! – Is it better to substitute the first exclamation mark with a comma or a dot?
Oh, no! I forgot to feed the horse. – Or maybe the second exclamation mark should not be there at all?

Here is another example what the protagonist might say when I try to carry out an invalid action. Do you agree with my thoughts?
I can't do that. – Plain statement of fact. More stress on do.
I can't do that! – He thinks my suggestion was stupid. More stress on that.
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby Akien » 23 Nov 2015, 19:32

Peter {l Wrote}:Here is a made up example of what someone might say when they realize they forgot to feed the cow. What do you think?
Oh, no! I forgot to feed the horse! – Should I end two sentences in a row with exclamation marks?
Oh, no, I forgot to feed the horse! – Is it better to substitute the first exclamation mark with a comma or a dot?
Oh, no! I forgot to feed the horse. – Or maybe the second exclamation mark should not be there at all?

First one is fine. Remember than an exlamation mark is an enhanced full stop, so it is equivalent to: "Oh, no! (pause) I forgot to feed the horse!"
The second one is fine too, the only difference being that there is only a very short pause (comma) after the "Oh, no".
Third one is weird to me. Sounds like there is surprise or frustration on the "Oh, no!", but afterwards the protagonist becomes completely stoic and there is no longer this pressing sentiment that something important was forgotten. It just "Ah well, I forgot to feed the horse. Too bad, will do it on the morrow."

Peter {l Wrote}:Here is another example what the protagonist might say when I try to carry out an invalid action. Do you agree with my thoughts?
I can't do that. – Plain statement of fact. More stress on do.
I can't do that! – He thinks my suggestion was stupid. More stress on that.

Yes your interpretation is correct. For the first one I'd see the stress more on "can't", and in the second one it could be either on "do" or "that" - but then, don't take my word for it as I'm French and we tend to be very bad at stressing words in English :p
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby Peter » 25 Nov 2015, 19:34

Thank you. I feel more confident now.
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby Wuzzy » 29 May 2016, 14:21

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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby toothbrush » 15 Jun 2016, 17:13

Too many exclamation marks point to the youthful enthusiasm and excitement. Exclamation marks are placed anywhere in most student's letters without any justification.
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Re: Where and how often should exclamation marks be used?

Postby Arthur » 16 Jun 2016, 22:06

That's outrageous!!1
Hey pal, I took an oath for justice! "In happy days or tightest tights..." or something like that.
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