Say It With Screamers!!!!!

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, December 24, 2006

AMY SAYS SHE JUST HATES IT WHEN PEOPLE WRITE IN ALL CAPS, while Peter points out that a few CHOICE words set in caps can REALLY make a statement.

We're at a family holiday gathering, having eggs for breakfast, and we're either nostalgic for work, or feeling out of sorts without work, or just finding the subject a welcome one, a stress-free topic that doesn't involve childhood memories and whether so-and-so always got the most attention and why so-and-so always got blamed for everything.

Office e-mail. We work in different fields, but we know the nuances of the same digital lingo. We are part of the network of nobodys pioneering the rules and expectations of the new form of communication. "I would like to address the issue of the exclamation point!" I say. "And did you hear how I said that? Did you HEAR the exclamation point at the end of that statement?"

Nods go around the room.

"So, why am I not permitted to use an exclamation point in an e-mail?"

"Not permitted?" Carl asks. "You have e-mail rules at your university?"

Of course not. But there are certain sins that are not committed by scholars, and an exclamation point in an e-mail is one of them. It's a symbol that seems to say: I am perhaps way overly extremely enthusiastic about something I don't quite know how to express succinctly using mere words. And, therefore: stupid.

"That is true," Amy says. "An exclamation point is more something you would only use for family."

That is so true! There is no place for the exclamation point in business communication! This has been bothering me for some time. Or maybe I'm just in the mood for rebellion?

Carl interrupts. "Does anyone have any opinions on font styles?"

Eyebrows up! We find that we all have font opinions, noting how weird it is to actually vocalize the word "font," which would seem to be reserved only for viewing on a tool bar.

"Times New Roman 12 or 10," Peter says. "Courier or Arial. Black or blue."

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