Capitalizing and Punctuating Inside Parentheses

When a parenthetical phrase or sentence interrupts the middle of a sentence, do not capitalize the first letter inside the parentheses unless, of course, the word is a proper noun or proper adjective.

Example: We saw Roseate Spoonbills (they have an exquisite pink color) on our trip to Texas.

The first letter in a parenthetical question or exclamation is always capitalized.

Incorrect: We saw Brown Pelicans (have you ever seen one?) along the shore there.

Correct: We saw Brown Pelicans (Have you ever seen one?) along the shore there.

A parenthetical sentence that goes between two sentences of text uses both an initial capital letter and an end mark (period, question mark, or exclamation point) inside the parentheses.

Incorrect: We took a trip to Texas. (it is a big state)! There we saw many Brown Pelicans.

Correct: We took a trip to Texas. (It is a big state!) There we saw many Brown Pelicans.

In a sentence containing a parenthetical expression, any punctuation belonging to the main sentence goes outside the parentheses.

Incorrect: It was a real heat wave (five days over 100!)

Correct: It was a real heat wave (five days over 100)!

Correct: We saw Jerry, Ed (Tom's brother), and Julius there last night.


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