Don’t think the exclamation point communicates the excitement you think it does.

Punctuation marks are intended to help the reader grasp the meaning of your sentence, but few people believe that the intended meaning behind all the exclamation points is genuine excitement. “Don’t forget to visit our restaurants and support our family friendly organization!” says a letter to a contest winner. “We are very excited to announce our new cafeteria policy!” says an e-mail. Is the HR department truly that excited? Not likely, and the reader knows it.

Exclamation points reflect the emotional content of a statement, so it’s fine in “congratulations!” but not in many other instances. The writer sees it as a way to convey enthusiasm and assumes that the reader will be giddy with excitement. But it will take more than a punctuation mark to get people excited.

In addition, like any graphic element, too much of something wears thin. When used repeatedly in routine statements, it has no effect.

Exclamation points also are used frequently to convey emphasis or sarcasm, but common sense should deter you from using it for that purpose. Sending a message that says, “I can’t imagine what you were thinking!!!” will not do much for your workplace credibility.