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7.32 Afterthoughts and asides

Parentheses de-emphasize the words they contain, which often take the form of an afterthought or aside:

  • The premier (no mean orator himself) was enthusiastic in his praise of the minister’s speech.

An important afterthought, however, should be preceded by a dash or other mark of punctuation:

  • Finally the Computer Operations Branch agreed to follow through on the auditor’s recommendations—which is what it should have done six months earlier if it had had the best interests of the organization at heart.

In transcripts, use parentheses to enclose information on one of the speakers:

  • The Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry):
    Mr. Speaker, I support this initiative.

Parentheses should not alter the flow of the sentence in which they are inserted; the rest of the sentence should make sense if the parenthetic element is removed. The following is incorrect:

  • She had to forfeit her acting appointment (not to mention her bilingualism bonus) and she got no sympathy on either count.