Parentheses

Parentheses separate information from the rest of the sentence. They usually give examples, asides, and explanations. Use parentheses in the following situations:

  • Indicate abbreviations and acronyms. Typically, you should write out the full name of an organization the first time you mention it and place the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses afterwards.

Example: The Howe Center for Writing Excellence (HCWE) was established in 2007, due to a generous donation from Roger and Joyce Howe.

  • Indicate in-text citations.

Example: President and chief operating officer of the ACT education division, Cynthia Schmeiser, said, “Our results suggest high schools may not be effectively integrating instruction of these skills into their English curricula” (ACT, 2003).

  • De-emphasize information that is nonessential to understanding the sentence. Parentheses can minimize or hide information.

Example: Pangaea (translated “entire Earth”) began to break apart about 200 million years ago.

  • Set off a complete sentence with extra information.

Example: A local editorial manager says that her publishing company is employing fewer in-house proofreaders than ever before (the work is instead being contracted out to a pool of 40 to 60 freelancers).

Example: A local editorial manager says that her publishing company is employing fewer in-house proofreaders than ever before. (The work is instead being contracted out!)

When parentheses appear at the end of the sentence, punctuation for the main sentence should appear outside the parentheses.

Example: The first major continent is called Pangaea (translated “entire Earth”).