Something I have noticed recently is a tendency for publishers of children’s books to combine punctuation marks.

So far it is limited to their combining the question mark, with an exclamation.

It is as though the editors of these books believe the reader is unable to ascertain that the character is expressing themselves with surprise or not.

I am finding this irritating new strain of ‘punctuation’ more of a distraction than a useful additional indicator for my reading. So much so I am beginning to metaphorically put those books published with this new editing gimmick in my mental bin of ‘Candy Floss’ reading; books for children, that should only be read as often as they have candy floss.

Not very often.

I feel that it is used where the editors are not sure themselves – which is strange, and I have never heard of anyone wondering about whether a character has asked a question with surprise, or have only just exclaimed with a question. The context of the sentence usually indicates which it is.

In my view this is an unnecessary piece of entanglement in a language which seems to confuse people enough when they are asked to punctuate properly – so that they can clearly communicate.

Mr Brown would not have been pleased if I had started to pepper my writing with such a union. I think he would have marked my essay down with an acerbic comment and a neat exclamation point to finish.

I hope it isn’t an indication of worse things to come.

Punctuation is important and shouldn’t be abused.

A woman, without her man is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.