On this Samhain eve day, I’d like to remind all writers of email intended for American audiences that there are only three punctuation marks that properly end complete sentences: the period, the exclaimation point and the lone question mark. Using some remixed version of any of these to end a sentence in a business email automatically flips the Bozo bit for most readers. The most heinous of these freestylin’ punctuation marks to my eyes is the Triple Hooks (“???”). Here are loathsome examples of its usage:
I know this is a broad and ill-defined question, but does your product scale???
Since I work for a university, can I have a free licenses for your expensive product???
I know you don’t offer phone tech support, but could you call me right now???
I need a username? and a password???
Serious, non-clown people don’t need the Triple Hooks to make their point. They expect the reader to return the courtesy of a carefully composed email with a close and attentive reading of their missive.
Clown-people, on the other hand, do not read well at all. They are constantly distracted by horns going off, rainbow fright wigs and fitting into over-subscribed passenger vehicles. They can’t be bothered to read a lot of prissy sentences. They need to get on with their important clown-business! To this end, they employ special clown-punctuation in their own emails to tell them which word fragment to gawk at.
Now that’s C-business moving at the speed of the Interclownwork!
For the casual writer, I encourage you to use whatever symbols you think
will help you express yourself. I think the percentage sign and
aching for more time on the page. Please do restrain your grammatical
phreaking in business correspondance.
Your reader (and I) will be glad you did.
And that’s why there’s no key on your keyboard with “???” on it. Learning is fun!