Parentheses ()

Writers usually use parenthesis in conveying technical information such as equations or in stating information of secondary importance.

One parenthetical element within another

Probably the most common mistake made with parenthesis is the use of one set of parentheses within another set. When one parenthetical element is embedded in another, the inner element uses brackets instead.

Examples

“Remember that old spelling rhyme: “i” before “e” except after “c” (and except in all of the cases this rule doesn’t apply (e.g. “eight” and “glacier”)).”

“Remember that old spelling rhyme: “i” before “e” except after “c” (and except in all of the cases this rule doesn’t apply [e.g. “eight” and “glacier”]).”

Note that APA advises you to avoid using brackets in this way when you can. The most notable instance in which you should avoid this use of brackets is citations within parenthetical elements; use commas in these cases, so long doing so results in no confusion.

Examples

“This sort of testing is usually unreliable (as Jenner [2012] took pains to show).”

“This sort of testing is usually unreliable (as Jenner, 2012, took pains to show).”

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Shane Bryson

Shane finished his master's degree in English literature in 2013 and has been working as a writing tutor and editor since 2009. He began proofreading and editing essays with Scribbr in early summer, 2014.

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