Tag Archives: parentheses

All about Parentheses

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?)