Section 3.5

Aggressive Punctuation in Email

Punctuation is sometimes used as a kind of weapon. Perhaps you yourself have been the victim of a punctuation assault, as in the following examples:

Where is the document I requested??

I asked you to get here by 4:00!!!

When are you going to deliver the folders?!

In general, avoid what could be called aggressive punctuation: the combination of multiple consecutive exclamation points and/or question marks (instead of the usual allotment of one) to demonstrate anger, irritation, or urgency. In business communications, such punctuation can be inflammatory or offensive. If you need a document right away, use authoritative but professional language to request it. Don’t rely on punctuation to do your dirty work.