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Aggressive Punctuation in Email

Say no to punctuation pileups.

Ellen Jovin

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 one might call 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!