Like the full stop and question mark, exclamation marks are used to end a sentence. The mark was first used in printing in England in the 15th century and known as the sign of admiration. It is supposed this came from the Latin lo, meaning joy (imagine the l above the o).

Exclamation marks, also known as exclamation points or bangs, are mostly used where there is an expression of strong feeling or an interjection:

The exclamation mark is also used to express sudden events and raised volume:

It can also be used for more subtle nuances like showing astonishment or expressing protest:

Note: The last example shows a quite legitimate use of a question mark followed by an exclamation mark. Though not common in formal writing, it does have its uses in dialgoue. There is even a special mark for the concept called an interrobang (‽) – but this is rare and I advise sticking to the two symbols if you wish to use this device!

There is also a tendency for writers to use multiple exclamation marks for additional emphasis: That’s fantastic!!! This is okay in emails and display advertising, but should be avoided elsewhere.

Back to top …