Punctuation is being overused

How to respond to people who overuse punctuation marks?

The best way to approach these things as always is with humor.

Original sender: Where are my files ??????????

You, possible answer 01: I found you !!!!!!! you are in the Computer !!!!!

You, possible answer 02: I don't know?!?!?! Shall I help you find them?!?!?!

Zoolander jokes aside, I think if you responded to them with in-kind humor (as you did here in your post) the other person would get the point.

For example, take a look at this answer here, similarly as both are aimed at pet sleeves.

(I just call this a Pet Peeve as it's something you personally feel. I don't judge if it's warranted, but for what it's worth, I do :).)

However, since you published Poe's law, I have to add that I would only advocate this solution for those with whom you have at least some relationship, or who are lateral or subordinate to you.

For those who are above you or who don't know that they shouldn't take you seriously, I would just be frank and open about using I messages:

Hello, I'm sorry, I found your files, but I just wanted to ask if you can please stop using so many question marks and exclamation marks in the future.

It feels a bit like yelling and even if you hadn't marked the question with so many question marks, I would have taken you seriously and dealt with the situation urgently.

If you want to indicate that this e-mail is urgent, you can change the urgency of the e-mail to "High priority". In this case, the same message will be displayed.

Thank you and sorry for bothering you.

Whichever you choose, the position of strength is to own the Pet Peeve and make it work for you by thanking the person and apologizing for the inconvenience.

What do you think? Will any of these options work for you?

If it helps, I recently took the second approach with my own boss.

We have a good relationship that I didn't have to say so often and just had to make my request and it was effective, but also partly because I think she herself was ready to acknowledge the request and make the change.


Responding with humor is a good idea for your own entertainment, but people don't always get it.

Teacher KSHuang

@colmde, heh, yeah, which is why this was a two part answer.

Teacher KSHuang

@colmde also means responding with humor to defuse a situation that might get personal, not personal entertainment.