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I'm developing a website:

http://alexchen.info/brianfunshine/

My customer wrote the following in the front page:

Hi, I’m Brian “Funshine” Alexander. I offer professional Music, Voices, and Shows for kids and adults! SCROLL DOWN HERE FOR MY DEMOS!!

Does it look unprofessional?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

That depends on how you want to present yourself to your audience. If you want to appeal to the 4chan crowd or put yourself on a par with, say, the local used-car dealer, by all means stuff your prose with bundles of exclamation marks.

But you have to ask yourself if exclamation marks (especially multiples) are really doing anything to help you. For every 4chan devotee who thinks nothing of the excess, there are plenty who will be put off by this forced display of artificial enthusiasm.

The fact is, exclamation marks are seldom needed, especially in ordinary, informational prose.

I once had a junior copywriter working for me who had a proclivity for using slammers (slang for "exclamation points" or "exclamation marks") in her writing. I sat down with her one day and gave her a five-dollar bill. "New rule," I said. "Every time you use a slammer you owe me a buck. The first five are on me." She pinned the bill to her bulletin board. When she and her husband moved across the country several years later, she returned it to me unspent. Her writing, I might add, was much improved, and she thanked me for the lesson. Her portfolio was good enough by that time to get her a senior copywriter position at a large agency in her new city.

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2  
Best five dollars you never spent. –  Lauren Ipsum Jun 4 '11 at 13:35
    
Especially because he got it back. =P –  Ralph Gallagher Jun 4 '11 at 16:51
2  
@Ralph: I think you missed the "n" in "never". Lauren Ipsum is a careful writer, and got it right the first time. :) –  Robusto Jun 4 '11 at 17:38
    
aw, thanks, Robusto. :) –  Lauren Ipsum Jun 4 '11 at 19:26
    
I think this is the best answer here. When I see overuse of exclamation points and question marks and all caps, I dig deeper into the text and almost always find additional, more fundamental problems. –  Neil Fein Sep 12 '12 at 18:51

Yes, it is absolutely unprofessional.

I won't say it's never effective, but that's not what you asked. Professional design avoids those devices - for several good reasons, some mentioned in other answers, but give special attention to this one: unprofessional advertising overuses CAPS and exclamation marks to a ridiculous extent. Why let yourself be associated with that?

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I was taught in design school that all caps are also harder to read. This is more of a problem with headlines, where readers will maybe give your ad a tenth of a second in-between flipping pages of a magazine. –  Neil Fein Sep 12 '12 at 18:53

Robusto makes a good point about knowing your audience. Beyond that, I think caps and exclamation points are used for emphasis and attention. Try to find other ways to accomplish those goals. Spacing? color? italics? placement?

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1  
Italics is the common way of stressing things in Fiction writing instead of Caps. Readers tend to think that caps look amateurish and equate caps with shouting. Italics is a subtler way of adding emphasis. –  Ralph Gallagher Jun 4 '11 at 16:52

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