Read the Beforeitsnews.com story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By Bradley J Roth
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Now:
Last hour:
Last 24 hours:
Total:

Should Exclamation Points Be Used in Scientific Writing? Yes!

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.


Exclamation points are rare in scientific writing, but I like them. Occasionally Russ Hobbie and I use them in Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology. They’re fine as long as you don’t overdo it.

Let’s see what my favorite books about writing say.

The Elements of Style,
by Strunk and White.

Strunk and White (The Elements of Style): “Do not attempt to emphasize simple statements by using a mark of exclamation…The exclamation mark is to be reserved for use after true exclamations or commands.”

On Writing Well,
by William Zinsser.

Zinsser (On Writing Well): “Don’t use it unless you must to achieve a certain effect. It has a gushy aura…Resist using an exclamation point to notify the reader that you are making a joke or being ironic…Humor is best achieved by understatement, and there’s nothing subtle about an exclamation point.”

  Dreyer’s English,
by Benjamin Dreyer.

Dreyer (Dreyer’s English): “Go light on the exclamation points. When overused, they’re bossy, hectoring, and, ultimately, wearying. Some writers recommend that you should use no more than a dozen exclamation points per book; others insist that you should use no more than a dozen exclamation points in a lifetime.”

Plain Words,
by Sir Ernest Gowers.

Gowers (Plain Words): His disdain for the exclamation point is so complete he doesn’t even acknowledge that it exists.

Below I list eleven places where exclamation points appear in IPMB. In each case, I indicate if we should keep the exclamation point or toss it out. Note: I don’t include any exclamation point that indicates a factorial, such as 4! = 1 × 2 × 3 × 4 = 24; that’s a mathematical symbol, not punctuation.

Page 29: Homework Problem 43 in Chapter 1 says “Suppose a student asked you, ‘How can blood be moving more slowly in a capillary than in the aorta? … The capillary has a much smaller cross-sectional area than the aorta. Therefore, the blood should move faster in the capillary than in the aorta!” The exclamation point belongs to the hypothetical student, not to Russ and me. If you don’t like it, take it up with the student (and beware, those students tend to be gushy). Keep.

Page 44: In Chapter 2, Russ and I write “Moreover, commercial graphing software does not impose this constraint on log–log plots, so it is becoming less and less likely that you can determine the exponent by glancing at the plot. Be careful!” The exclamation point is a warning. Keep.

Page 51: In the references at the end of Chapter 2, we cite Albert Bartlett’s delightful book “The Essential Exponential!” The exponential point is Bartlett’s, and is part of the title (like Oklahoma!). Keep.

Page 53: In the introduction to Chapter 3, Russ and I explain why statistical methods are so useful in thermodynamics. We estimate how long is required to simulate all the particles in a cubic millimeter of blood. We conclude “If a computer can do 1012 operations/s, then the complete calculation for a single time interval will require 108 s or 3 years!” In other words, a really long time. My feelings on this one are mixed. Toss.

Page 270: In a footnote in Chapter 10, we write “Strictly speaking, (dV/dt)alveoli is not the derivative of a function V. (It always has a positive value, and the lungs are not expanding without limit!) We use the notation to remind ourselves that it is the rate of air exchange in the alveoli.” If I could delete only one exclamation point from IPMB, this would it. The thought of those lungs getting bigger and bigger is just disturbing. Toss.

Page 308: In Chapter 11, Russ and I compare two methods for doing a least squares fit of an exponentially decaying function. Method 1: take the logarithm of the data and then do a linear fit. Method 2: do a nonlinear fit to the original data. We end the analysis with a moral: “Use nonlinear least squares, Method 2!” Keep.

Page 388: A section in Chapter 14 has tricky units. We remind the reader to “Be careful with units!” Exclamation points are legitimate when issuing a command or warning. Perhaps, however, we shouldn’t have used both bold and an exclamation point. Keep.

Page 484: When explaining the linear-quadratic model for radiation damage, Russ and I concoct an illustrative but unrealistic example. We then warn the reader “(This is not realistic!).” I wonder if we should’ve made a more realistic example and avoided the exclamation point. Toss.

Page 497: In Homework Problem 8 of Chapter 16, Russ and I discuss x-ray imaging devices used to fit kids’ shoes, common in the 1940s. “These marvelous units were operated by people who had no concept of radiation safety and aimed a beam of x-rays upward through the feet and right at the reproductive organs of the children!” My vote is to keep this exclamation point at all costs! Let’s even keep the sarcasm. Keep.

Page 587: In Appendix H, we use an exclamation point when trying to make a joke. We had already developed the binomial probability distribution using p for the probability of success and q for the probability of failure. Then we write “Suppose that we do N independent tests, and suppose that in healthy people, the probability that each test is abnormal is p. (In our vocabulary, having an abnormal test is ‘success’!).” Lame. Toss.

Page 593: Appendix I has a footnote containing my favorite exclamation point in Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology. It appears when we introduce Stirling’s formula: ln n! ≈ n ln n – n. “For more about Stirling’s formula, see N. D. Mermin (1994) Stirling’s formula! Am J Phys 52: 362–365.” The exclamation point is a pun. Keep!


Source: http://hobbieroth.blogspot.com/2023/03/should-exclamation-points-be-used-in.html


Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Humic & Fulvic Liquid Trace Mineral Complex

HerbAnomic’s Humic and Fulvic Liquid Trace Mineral Complex is a revolutionary New Humic and Fulvic Acid Complex designed to support your body at the cellular level. Our product has been thoroughly tested by an ISO/IEC Certified Lab for toxins and Heavy metals as well as for trace mineral content. We KNOW we have NO lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum etc. in our Formula. This Humic & Fulvic Liquid Trace Mineral complex has high trace levels of naturally occurring Humic and Fulvic Acids as well as high trace levels of Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Potassium and more. There is a wide range of up to 70 trace minerals which occur naturally in our Complex at varying levels. We Choose to list the 8 substances which occur in higher trace levels on our supplement panel. We don’t claim a high number of minerals as other Humic and Fulvic Supplements do and leave you to guess which elements you’ll be getting. Order Your Humic Fulvic for Your Family by Clicking on this Link , or the Banner Below.



Our Formula is an exceptional value compared to other Humic Fulvic Minerals because...


It’s OXYGENATED

It Always Tests at 9.5+ pH

Preservative and Chemical Free

Allergen Free

Comes From a Pure, Unpolluted, Organic Source

Is an Excellent Source for Trace Minerals

Is From Whole, Prehisoric Plant Based Origin Material With Ionic Minerals and Constituents

Highly Conductive/Full of Extra Electrons

Is a Full Spectrum Complex


Our Humic and Fulvic Liquid Trace Mineral Complex has Minerals, Amino Acids, Poly Electrolytes, Phytochemicals, Polyphenols, Bioflavonoids and Trace Vitamins included with the Humic and Fulvic Acid. Our Source material is high in these constituents, where other manufacturers use inferior materials.


Try Our Humic and Fulvic Liquid Trace Mineral Complex today. Order Yours Today by Following This Link.

Report abuse

    Comments

    Your Comments
    Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

    MOST RECENT
    Load more ...

    SignUp

    Login

    Newsletter

    Email this story
    Email this story

    If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

    If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.