Parentheses: More Than Helpful Emoticon Tools

Keyboard characters creating an emoji face usingInterestingly, parentheses can do more than make smiley faces :) and sad faces :( like these. Although they are quite handy for these important emoticons, they serve an important function in formal writing, as well.

Parentheses are used to set off information in a sentence that is important but not really a part of the main message. It’s important to remember that your sentence should make sense if you eliminate the parentheses and all that is contained between them.

The Headless Horseman (as the old legend goes) eliminated the disruption Ichabod Crane brought to Sleepy Hollow.

You’ll probably use parentheses most often in your research papers because both APA and MLA formatting require in-text citations using parentheses. So right after a quote or any other borrowed information, you should include an in-text citation in parentheses, as illustrated in these examples:

APA (Jones, 2011, p.131).
MLA (Jones 131).

TIP: The period comes after the parenthesis in both APA and MLA format. The exception to this rule is with block quotes. When using block quotes, in both APA and MLA format, the period comes before the in-text citation.

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