June 18, 2024

InterrobangOver Family Weekend, the Writing Center had its annual Punctuation Election, wherein students vote on their favorite punctuation marks to see which will be the supreme sign. And while I am shouting for joy for those who voted in favor of the exclamation point – this year’s winner – I can’t help but feel a deep sorrow for my punctuation mark of choice, the underrated interrobang.
What exactly is the interrobang, some may ask? Created by journalist and advertising agent Martin K. Speckter in 1962, the interrobang is a combination of the question mark, which, according to author Henry Mandeville, is also known as the “interrogative point,” and the exclamation point, which, in computer jargon, was commonly referred to as “the bang:” ergo, the combined efforts of the two result in the term “interrobang.”
And why should anyone care about such a punctuation mark?
Daniel Scocco, an author for the website “Daily Writing Tips” explained in his piece “Punctuation Errors: Multiple Punctuation Marks.”
“The exclamation mark, the ellipsis and the question mark have clear roles inside the English language, and you should trust them,” he wrote. “Increasing the number of exclamation or question marks at the end of a sentence might appear to increase the overall emphasis, but in reality it just makes your text ugly and informal.”
As college students, we typically write a lot of scholarly papers, papers by which we must adhere to proper grammatical standards and, in general, we try to look and sound as formal and intelligent as possible to get high marks on our work.
However, often in our writing – especially in creative writing pieces, but every now and again in an academic essay – we find it necessary to question something while simultaneously expressing it in an exclamatory fashion.
Which is where our friend the interrobang swoops in to save the day.
And let’s be honest, which is more appealing to the eye: “You’ve never heard of the interrobang?!” or “You’ve never heard of the interrobang?!”
So next year, as you contemplate which punctuation mark to vote for, think about which one truly deserves to win this honorific title; which has been long underappreciated while remaining a vital mark to our academic careers and the English language as a whole. So who will you vote for?!

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