question marks and exclamation pointsAsk more questions; avoid exclamations

The ques­tion mark is un­der­used. Many times, you can make a topic sen­tence sim­pler and pithier by pre­sent­ing it in the form of a ques­tion. It’s easy surgery:

We now turn our attention to the issue
of whether Munchausen syndrome was
diagnosed before the 1960s.
before
Was Munchausen syndrome diagnosed
before the 1960s?
after

The ex­cla­ma­tion point is overused. Give your­self a bud­get of one ex­cla­ma­tion point for any doc­u­ment longer than three pages. If you must use it, use it wisely.

by the way
  • In tra­di­tional print shops, an ex­cla­ma­tion point was also known as a bang. The com­bi­na­tion of a ques­tion mark and ex­cla­ma­tion point (?!)—seen mostly in di­a­logue bal­loons in comics—is called an in­ter­robang. An in­ter­robang lig­a­ture was in­vented in 1962 and has had an undis­tin­guished ca­reer. It did, how­ever, make it into Uni­code.

  • Never use more than one ex­cla­ma­tion point in a row, un­less you’re a teenager send­ing a text mes­sage. Srsly.