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April 2013 Volume 9 Issue 4

The Write Stuff

April 2013  Volume 9 Issue 4

Watch Your Parentheses

 

Punctuation can make or break your copy; it’s a great tool to ensure

readers can easily comprehend what you’re communicating, but it can also

serve as a deterrent. With that in mind, let’s focus on parentheses (or

perhaps you call them brackets).

 

I have two words for those of you who are parentheses fans: writer

beware.

 

Typically, the best way to use parentheses is as I did above, at the end

of a sentence. If you are going to use them within a sentence, you

should ensure the copy between them is as brief as possible. For

instance, I could have used an em-dash (a long dash) as an alternative

to parentheses in the sentence above:

 

With that in mind, let’s focus on parentheses–or perhaps you call them

brackets.

 

Which option is easier for you to read? For me, it’s the latter, as

parentheses can be rather clunky. They can actually result in an

unwelcome distraction, which is why using parentheses within sentences

can make them more difficult to read:

 

Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to Chicago (where the weather forecast

includes the possibility of rain almost every day I’ll be there) to hang

out with my nephew while the rest of his family is away.

 

Did you forget the first part of the sentence by the time you reached

the end of the parentheses? A better way to write the same thing would

be:

 

Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to Chicago to hang out with my nephew while

the rest of his family is away. The weather forecast includes the

possibility of rain almost every day I’ll be there.

 

One other tip about parentheses: if the copy inside them is a complete

sentence, be sure to punctuate properly:

 

My beloved Cubbies set a Major League Baseball record the other day.

(They threw five wild pitches in one inning.) It might be a long season

for those of us who are Chicago Cubs fans.

 

 

Do you know businesses that could benefit from my writing or editing expertise, or book authors who need a talented editor? Your referrals will be much appreciated; I’ll treat them like gold and you’ll be considered a superstar for making the introduction.

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