Writing E-Tips
September 2005   
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"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right
the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon."

--Robert Cromier

The Power of Punctuation, Part I

Using Parentheses and Brackets

     Parentheses and brackets are handy little tools used to separate text within text. Used judiciously, they can make the text smooth and clear. Overused, these punctuation marks can make your writing choppy and hard to read. Below are some rules for using both parentheses and brackets.


Use parentheses to set off numbers in a list within a sentence.

Before we can implement the program, we need to explore (1) the necessary time frame, (2) cost factors, and (3) impact on personnel.

Use parentheses to set off dates or other explanatory material within a sentence.

Please inform me if the meeting date (Tuesday, October 9) is acceptable.
The inspector said the ladders (HG510 and HH613) do not meet code.

Use parentheses to set off references to authors, titles, or pages within a sentence.

The research clearly shows that this program will help increase employee efficiency (Smith, page 12).


Use brackets if you are quoting someone and need to add material to make the quotation understandable.

Jan said, "Once the committee saw them [the results], the decision to continue funding our research was unanimous."

Use brackets around the Latin word sic, which is used within a quoted passage to show that the error was made by the original speaker or writer.

The end of the report read, “We hope you agree with our purposed [sic] recommendations."

The preceding tips are from
Write for Business:
A Compact Guide to Writing
and Communicating

Now available for purchase at http://www.upwritepress.com/products/books_cds.php.


How important is correct punctuation? Just check out the paragraphs below. They contain the same words--but not the same meaning!

I am happy to write this referral letter about Gilbert Franklin, an exemplary employee. Gil is not happy unless he is working. Does he waste time? Never. Satisfied with his life, he finds joy nowhere more than giving his best. Gil gives the least problems, perhaps, of all my employees. Gil is not skilled in just one area; he has developed talent in many respects. I wish him good luck.



I am happy to write this referral letter about Gilbert Franklin. An exemplary employee Gil is not. Happy unless he is working, does he waste time! Never satisfied with his life, he finds joy nowhere. More than giving his best, Gil gives the least. Problems? Perhaps. Of all my employees, Gil is not skilled. In just one area, he has developed talent. In many respects, I wish him good luck.



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Coming in the October Issue:
The Power of Punctuation, Part II"

Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating
is available for purchase at 1-800-261-0637 ext. 10,
or on the Web at http://www.upwritepress.com.

"Writing E-Tips" is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc.
P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105.
Copyright =A9 2005, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved.