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  1. To set off matter that is not intended to be part of the main statement, but which provides an explanation, an example, or additional information.

    • First-quarter revenues were higher (by 11% over the first quarter of the previous year), but profits were lower (by 3%).
    • Only a few weeks late, the company announced its intention to purchase the consumer products division (flour and pasta) of one of its smaller competitors.

  2. To enclose a parenthetic clause that is too long to be designated by commas.

    • It was our favorite winter destination (warm daytime and evening temperatures and virtually no rain), but took a full day by air and rental car to reach.
    • When writing to the customer service department, try to describe the problem accurately and in detail (i.e., indicate the date of purchase and store location, as well as the item number and problem that you are experiencing) without exaggeration.

  3. To enclose abbreviations following their written forms.

    • The mortgage loan was insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
    • He was an active member of Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).

  4. To enclose the abbreviation for a state within a name for easier identification.

    • The Burlington (VT) Free Press
    • Hollywood (FL) Chamber of Commerce.

  5. To enclose unpunctuated numbers or letters that designate individual items in a series, whether in a sentence or paragraph, or at the beginning of a paragraph.

    • The order of the proceedings will be: (a) Lower School prizes, (b) Upper School prizes, and (c) Headmaster's Remarks.
    • Paragraph 12(C)(2)(a) appears on page 37.

  6. To enclose numerals that serve to confirm a written or printed number in a business or legal matter.

    • Payment must be made on the fifteenth (15th) of each month.
    • Prepare a check for Three Thousand, Five Hundred Dollars ($3,500).

  7. To enclose personal asides.

    • The manufacturer claimed to have an exciting new low-cost solution (we weren't excited and the solution wasn't low-costing) for an age-old problem.

  8. To indicate alternative terms.

    • Please advise us of the date(s) on which you will attend.

  9. To indicate a loss in accounting and finance.

    Operating Profit (in millions) 17.4 Net gain (in millions) on disposition of assets (24.3) Total profit or (loss) (6.9)

  10. To enclose references, including bibliographic references.
  • For further details of the roof construction, see the diagram (Fig. 5).
  • Recent European studies (LeBlanc 2001; Martinez 2003) have found the opposite.

When parentheses are used to enclose an independent sentence, it is necessary to capitalize the first enclosed word. A period or other punctuation mark must precede the closing parenthesis.

However, a parenthetic expression within a sentence, even if an independent sentence, does not end with a period, although an exclamation mark, a question mark, or quotation marks may follow it. The first letter of a parenthetic expression uses is capitalized only if the expression is a quotation. Parentheses are not normally used to enclose a complete paragraph. Instead, the paragraph may appear as a footnote.

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