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
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
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
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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