I seem to be a bit more aware of punctuation lately. It started with this post about one space v. two spaces (and wow, I never would’ve guessed that so many of us were “typing Luddites” as Lyndsey put it). Today, I’m going to ramble on about parentheses. (And just so you have something to look forward to, my next punctuation post will be about em dashes…you can thank Jenners.)
If you’ve read my blog for awhile, it should come as no surprise that I love parentheses (and I readily to admit to overusing and abusing the poor things…they should put in for overtime). It makes me happy to use them, because I think they do a good job of representing my thought processes (a little fizzy, kind of scattered, and full of after-thoughts).
However, this may come as a shock, but I recently discovered that I also hate parentheses. I know, I know…I’m contradicting myself.
You see, there’s a time and place for everything, and work is SO not a place for my good buddies (my good buddies being ( and ) ). I spend a good deal of time writing and revising procedural guides for where I work (it’s a government agency…we love us some procedures). (Also, you’ll be relieved to know that I have yet to use ellipses in my procedural guides.)
So there I was, revising a guide that somebody else wrote (on one hell of a depressing topic that I’m not going to share), when I realized the original author (who luckily has since retired, and therefore was not within earshot of my growls and curse words) used too damn many parentheses. Much as it pained me to admit it, they did nothing but confuse matters (and look ugly, to boot). After all, I’m trying to make things easy for our busy workers to understand. So I went on a parentheses deleting rampage.
Let me illustrate.
When giving instructions, the following sentence is just bad, bad, bad:
Turn in paperwork to the Intake unit by 9am the following working day. (either drop off or fax) (Also frustrating…the period was on the wrong side of the parentheses!!) (Another also…occasionally she would use [brackets]. *shudder*)
Dude! Why can’t you just say…Drop off or fax paperwork to the Intake unit blah blah blah.
So I spent the better part of my morning correcting someone else’s poor sentence structure, and also laughing at myself, because yes, I do recognize the hypocrisy. However, it just goes to show that:
1. My blog is a far cry from my job, and it gives me great pleasure to make sure they are nothing alike.
2. I can be gramatically (and punctuationally) correct if I try hard enough. Please don’t take offense at the fact that I’m not trying for you all. You’re just getting the unedited version of me. And you should feel lucky that I don’t use footnotes…can you imagine the horror? The scroll bars would revolt!