Grammar Tip – Punctuation With Brackets

Bill’s question: “I have seen parentheses with the period both inside and outside the brackets. Which is correct?”

BizWritingTip response: The rules for punctuation with brackets — or parentheses — are actually quite simple. If the material inside the brackets is a sentence fragment or an acronym, place the period outside the bracket.

I am an employee of North Bay General Hospital (NBGH). Correct
I am an employee of North Bay General Hospital (NBGH.) Incorrect
This is our best year yet (in terms of sales). Correct

If the information inside the bracket forms a complete sentence, place the period inside the bracket.  Don’t forget to insert a period before the “bracketed” material begins.

This is the best year we have had in terms of sales. (I am sure we all agree on this.)
Would you like to attend the upcoming conference? (I am not sure where it will be held.)

Some readers may now be asking why even put sentences in brackets. It is a style option. It implies that the bracketed thought is an aside. It is not relevant to the main thought.

Personally, I find bracketed remarks distracting. I do not recommend you overuse this style option.