Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by the brilliant writer Willow Older. It originally appeared on her weekly Newsy newsletter and in the Marin Independent Journal


Dear @realDonaldTrump!

I’m not a millionaire, a businessperson or a politician, but as a professional writer, I’ve got some advice for you! Since you’re super busy these days on Twitter, I hope you won’t mind if I offer a friendly reminder about one of the cardinal rules of writing! Here goes!

An exclamation point is a punctuation mark that a) denotes the end of a sentence and b) expresses excitement or emotion.

Sounds simple, I know!

But hold on, @realDonaldTrump! Your favorite punctuation mark is a little more complicated than that definition suggests! Perhaps more than any other writing device, this one comes with a warning!

I’m serious!

No matter which style guide or grammar book you consult with – I’m sure you keep several of your favorites on hand! – you’ll find notes like this one from author and writing expert Peter Carino! “Some beginners … tend to overuse exclamation points. Where there are too many … they no longer create the emphasis they are designed for.”

That’s right! Turns out when you end every tweet with an exclamation point, you end up sounding like an amped-up toddler whose impulse control has been sabotaged by too many sugary Skittles!



And downright silly!

But @realDonaldTrump, you don’t need to just take my word for it! Here are some thoughts from other writers about the world’s most overused punctuation mark!

This one’s from Howard Mittelmark, author of How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them—A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide! “In almost all situations that do not involve immediate physical danger or great surprise, you should think twice before using an exclamation mark. If you have thought twice and the exclamation mark is still there, think about it three times, or however many times it takes until you delete it.”

Here’s one courtesy of grammar guru Oliver Strunk! “Do not attempt to emphasize simple statements by using a mark of exclamation. The exclamation mark is to be reserved for use after true exclamations (“What a wonderful show!”) or commands (“Halt!”).”

And here’s a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald! “Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”

While we’re on the subject, @realDonaldTrump, I hope you won’t mind if I share one more tidbit! Combining your excessive exclamation points with words typed in ALL CAPS does NOT help you MAKE YOUR POINT! In fact, unless you’re a 14-year-old girl gushing about her current crush, it UNDERMINES IT!

To be clear, @realDonaldTrump, I’m not suggesting that elevating your writing style will make me agree with anything you say! But at this point, I can’t get past your DISTRACTING communication style to even focus on what you think! It’s hard – no, it’s impossible! – to seriously consider your ideas and comments when you punctuate every thought with the grammatical equivalent of FIREWORKS ON NEW YEAR’S EVE!

I confess, @realDonaldTrump, your punctuation is EXHAUSTING!

But HOLD ON! Perhaps this is actually great news! Maybe if enough people find your tweets tiring and tiresome, folks will start ignoring them COMPLETELY! If that’s even a remote possibility, I’m going to stop complaining RIGHT NOW about your abuse of exclamation points and CAPS LOCK!

In fact, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, I fully encourage you disregard — or should I say DISAVOW! — all commonly held beliefs on the subject!

Just like you already do with so many things!

So, @realDonaldTrump, time to get back to work!

After all, those TWEETS won’t write THEMSELVES!


Editor’s bonus article: If you’re just as confuzzled as we are by the Twitter-er In Chief’s communication style, here’s a primer on the joys of semi-articulation: