"Between me and the life there is a mist of words always." (Oscar Wilde)

Word Tip Archived Item

WORD TIP: Punctuation & Parentheses

Where does the period go when using parentheses (brackets)?The rule for placement of the period is quite simple.

If the statement contained within the brackets is a complete sentence, then the period goes inside the closing bracket.

Example:

The author gave an interesting overview of a recent trip to Ghana.(As a result of his many travels, he has learned six languages.)

Since the writer of this sentence decided to make the second sentence an aside to the rest of the article, he or she put it in parentheses. It’s a complete sentence and, therefore, ends with the period. The period is part of the sentence and goes inside the bracket.

If the statement contained within the brackets is a sentence fragment, the period goes outside the closing bracket.

Example:

The author gave an interesting overview of a recent trip to Ghana. He noted that as a result of his many travels, he’s learned a total of six languages (spoken, not written).

Here, the writer didn’t want to minimize the fact that the author had learned six different languages. However, the writer felt it should be made clear that the author could in fact only converse in these languages, not necessarily read and write them.

Tip: The basic rule for using punctuation with parentheses follows these examples – if the bracketed statement is a complete sentence, put the punctuation inside the closing bracket. (Isn’t that easy?)