Posted by: episystechpubs | January 9, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Parentheses

Good afternoon! Don’t forget, today is the last day to get points for encouraging people to sign up for the Editor’s Corner. You can recommend it any time of the year, but today your points go towards a $20 Starbucks card that is burning a hole in my pocket!

I received a lot of questions yesterday about punctuation combinations at the end of sentences. Most of them revolved around parentheses and quotation marks, so let’s tackle parentheses today.

Some of the questions:

· When a sentence has a parenthetical phrase at the end, does the end punctuation go inside or outside the parentheses?

· If a sentence ends with a question in parentheses, do you put the question mark inside the parentheses and end with the closing parentheses? Or do you put a period after that? For example: (right?).


The rules from; the definition and examples are from The Chicago Manual of Style and from me.

Definition: Parentheses are used to set off material from the surrounding text.

Rule 1: Use parentheses to enclose words or figures that clarify or are used as an aside.

· He suspected that the noble gases (helium, neon, etc.) could produce a similar effect.

· Wexford’s analysis (see chapter 3) is more to the point.

Rule 2: Use full parentheses to enclose numbers or letters used for listed items.

· Myrtle dumped Duncan because as a boyfriend he was (1) selfish, (2) a messy eater, and (3) he liked sleeping with his pet boa.

Rule 3: Periods go inside parentheses only if an entire sentence is inside the parentheses.

· Five new watches were on display. (Shellahan coveted the battery-powered quartz model.)

Additional Examples:

· Intelligence tests (e.g., the Stanford-Binet) are no longer widely used.

· Come on in (quietly, please!) and take a seat.

· On display were the watchmakers’ five latest creations (all of which Shellahan coveted).

Final Word:

Sometimes it’s best just to rewrite the sentence a different way to get around crazy punctuation.

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