I’ve seen writing that had one-third of the words buried between parentheses. And I’ve seen writing with no parentheses at all. Which did I like better? The one without the parentheses. These little punctuation marks slow down the reader and puts the text where they are buried on hold until the story appears on the right side of the material enclosed.

Still, parentheses have a legitimate purpose and should be used when needed. They often supply fascinating or useful information. Go to Writing Simplified for an excellent review of the main uses of parentheses. But before you go, here are a few of the mistakes we often find when we see parentheses in writing submitted to us:

1. Leave off the ending mark. Like punctuation marks and brackets, parentheses have a beginning and an ending mark. This is the beginning punctuation mark: ( and this is the ending punctuation mark: ). Be sure used both marks with each parenthetical text.

2. Making parenthetical material its own paragraph. If it’s worth a paragraph, make it into a paragraph that is part of the whole text.

3. Placing the parentheses and text in the wrong place. The opening parenthesis mark needs to come immediately after the most closely related text. “I screamed  (Who  wouldn’t have?) when I heard the scratching on my window.”

4. Too many parentheses. Unless you’re running a list and need parentheses for each number or reference in your list, try to limit your parentheses to rare remarks that are truly needed but not part of the text. “The ending (of course) was one we all anticipated (from the first paragraph), and we prepared to disqualify (and delete from the competition) such a predictable story.”

5. Not giving the acronym immediately after the first reference. “The FDA was hot on the case.” Should be “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was hot on the case.” Once you give the acronym, keep on using it for the rest of the text.

Used correctly, parentheses help set off bits of text that add credibility or interest.  Have fun with the parentheses in your life!

provided by Griffith Publishing