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Brackets (and how to use them)
Author : Catie Holdridge
Posted : 10 / 12 / 09
So, those emoticon smiles: what else can they be used for?
Imagine the contents of round brackets (or parentheses) as an aside
that might be said behind your hand (an actor on a stage might anyway).
These punctuation marks come in handy to:
You don’t have much time left to finish your Christmas shopping (only six shopping days!).
At this time of year, many people suffer from Seasonal
Affective Disorder (SAD); although equally problematic during December
is pogonophobia (a fear of beards).
If you’re wondering where to put punctuation around brackets, you’ll soon find out (see below).
To learn more about pogonophobia, see The Big Book of Phobias (p92).
The effects of SAD can be quite debilitating (believe me).
The Christmas e-bulletin should be well-received by its already tipsy reader(s).
But parentheses are not to be confused with square brackets. These can be used to:
Emphasis staff will be required to wear Santa hats to work throughout December [Catie to purchase these].
She said, ‘If you make me wear that thing [the Santa hat] to work, I’m quitting.’
In these cases, you can just replace the word(s) being clarified eg
‘I said: if you make me put on [the Santa hat], I’m quitting. Humbug!’
It can be confusing working out where to put the punctuation around brackets (but we’re here to help):
Catie joined Emphasis with an English literature and creative writing degree and a keen interest in what makes language work. Having researched and written dozens of articles for the Emphasis blog, she now knows more about the intricacies of effective professional writing than she ever thought possible.
She produced and co-wrote our online training programme, The Complete Business Writer, and these days oversees all the Emphasis marketing efforts. And she keeps office repartee at a suitably literary level.
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