/Miscellaneous Punctuation Marks/

1.Use the double quotation mark ( ) to enclose a direct quotation derived from either a spoken or written source. Generally speaking, quotation marks are used to denote that the information is a quote. In other words, whether you’re recreating someone’s verbal speech or simply re-writing something that they wrote elsewhere, you’ll use quotation marks.

  • Below are two examples of quotation mark usage:

    “I can’t wait to see him perform!” John exclaimed.

    According to the article, the value of the dollar in developing nations is “strongly influenced by its aesthetic value, rather than its face value.”

2.Use parentheses to clarify. Parentheses are often used to explain something that can’t be deduced from the rest of the sentence. When using parentheses ( ” ( ) ” ), be sure to include the sentence’s period after the closing parenthesis, except in the case that an entire sentence is within parentheses. Note that sometimes parentheses and commas can be used interchangeably.

  • Here is an example of parentheses used for clarification:

    Steve Case (AOL’s former CEO) resigned from the Time-Warner board of directors in 2005.

3.Use parentheses to denote an afterthought. Parentheses can also be used to contain information that is supplementary to the sentence they are part of. In this case, the line between using parentheses and starting a new sentence instead can be somewhat murky. A good general rule is to use parentheses for short additions and quips, not complex ideas.

  • Here is an example of parentheses used for an afterthought. Note that the period (full stop) follows the last parenthesis — not before the first. Also note that replacing the parentheses with a comma may not be entirely suitable here, while a period or a semicolon may work:

    You will need a flashlight for the camping trip (don’t forget the batteries!).

4.Use parentheses for personal comments. One additional usage of parentheses is to contain the writer’s direct comments to the reader. Usually, the comments contained in parentheses refer to the preceding sentence. As above, the shorter and simpler the better. If you have to expound at great length or reference several disparate pieces of your writing, it’s usually best to start a new sentence.

  • Here is an example of parentheses used for a personal comment:

    Most grammarians believe that parentheses and commas are always interchangeable (I disagree).

5.Use brackets to signify an editor’s note in a regular piece of writing. You can also use brackets ( ” [ ] ” ) to clarify or to revise a direct quote. Brackets are often used to encompass the word “sic” (Latin for thus), indicating that the previous word or phrase was presented “as is,” retaining an error in the original version.

  • Here is an example of brackets used for clarity in a direct quote. (Note that the original quote was, “It was absolutely devastating!”)

    “‘[The blast] was absolutely devastating!’ said Susan Smith, a local bystander at the scene of the incident.

6.Use braces to denote a numeric set in mathematics. Less commonly, braces ( ” { } ” ) can also be used in regular writing to indicate a set of equal, independent choices.

  • Here are two examples of brace usage. Note that the second is exceedingly rare:

    The set of numbers in this problem is: { 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 }

    Choose your favorite utensil { fork, knife, spoon } and bring it to me.

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