Answers to Writing FAQs
Rarely does a day go by when I’m not asked for my opinion on a writing issue — and I’m always happy to weigh in. Since many people ask the same things, I thought it made sense to answer some of the most common questions here.
Q. Does the period go inside or outside of parentheses at the end of a sentence?
A. It depends — and I must point out I’m not a big fan of using parentheses. However, if you choose to use them, make sure you do it like this:
- The Sharks are in trouble. (Three of their stars are injured.)
- The Sharks are in trouble (because three of their stars are injured).
In the first example, the period is inside, because it ends a complete sentence. In the second, it’s outside, because what’s in the parentheses is just a clause, part of the sentence.
Q. When are single quotes used?
A. Rarely, if at all. The only time it’s appropriate to use single quotes is if you’re quoting something that’s already in a quote, like this:
- “Whenever Cubbie comes with me on errands, people often smile and say, ‘your dog is so cute’ — and I love that.”
Q. Do you refer to a company as their or its?
A. Its. A company reports its earnings, provides great benefits to its employees, etc. If you’re speaking of two or more companies, you’d use their.
Q. What punctuation should be used after including?
A. Nothing — not even a colon — but a comma should precede it, like this:
- We have many choices to make on March 3, including national and local races, measures, and a proposition.
I hope this is helpful — and don’t forget to vote!
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It seems to me that the easier it becomes to communicate — the less people actually respond when it would be courteous to do so. Call me old-fashioned (or maybe just old), but I continue to be puzzled when people don’t acknowledge receiving documents via email. A simple, “thanks, I got it,” will provide the sender peace of mind.