Parentheses are wonderful punctuation marks. They enliven your writing by allowing little interruptions. (I use them all the time.)
But many writers are afraid of them! So here’s a crash course in parentheses:
- Be careful not to overuse them. You don’t want to sound like a breathless teenager!
- Never put a comma in front of parentheses. That’s an ironclad rule – and a useful one. You don’t have to parse the sentence to figure out whether it needs a comma: if there’s a parenthesis, NO COMMA.
- But of course you can put a comma after parentheses (like this), if it’s needed.
- If you put a complete sentence into parentheses, start with a capital letter and end with a period. (You can also use question marks, exclamation points, and other end punctuation.)
- If it’s not a complete sentence, start with a lower-case letter, and don’t use a period (savvy readers will notice).
Congratulations! You now have a Ph.D. in parentheses. (Easy, wasn’t it?)