Is it acceptable to nest parentheses (for example, if I (meaning myself) write like this)?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
It is acceptable, but you should use it with care. Generally, you should avoid having long texts in parentheses, as the reader will eventually forget that he is inside a parentheses block.
In serious papers and letters, you should avoid it completely, and rather find a way of re-phrase it.
In conversational e-mails, blog posts, StackExchange posts etc. it might be more natural to use it, but the inner parenthesis should never be long (just a couple of words). The most important is to make sure that the reader don't get confused of where the parenthesis start and end.
With nested parentheses
This is a quick example on how to rephrase a potential problematic use of nested parenthesis. (It can be a less important section like this (which is quite long, even if it is not important), and when you continue, the reader might be lost in where in the parenthesized text he is, and might wonder if he still is inside any parentheses.) Anyway, the main text continues here.
Re-phrased to remove nesting
This is a quick example on how to rephrase a potential problematic use of nested parenthesis.
(It can be a less important section like this. It is quite long, even if it is not important. Now when you continue, the reader is not lost anymore because the long section is taken out in a separate paragraph, and no inner parentheses can be mistaken for an early termination of the outer section.)
Anyway, the main text continues here.
I believe it's acceptable, but vaguely considered poor form, and I tend to avoid it (often by restructuring a sentence and busting out some emdashes) unless I'm intentionally using it to be cute.
My English Composition professor told us that if you ever feel you need to use nested parentheses, that is one sure sign you need to rewrite the sentence instead.
Here's what one technical editor has to say on the topic:
Well I do it, but then I spend a lot of time as a mathematician.
If it gets confusing I think using alternative bracket glyphs assists
[Though using the guillemets
I have found that people who appreciate stressing thoroughly the logical construction of their sentences to make them totally unambiguous tend to use parentheses a lot, and to nest them, even though (see other answers) it's considered poor form. In particular, scientists (especially mathematicians and logicians) seem to do that more commonly than other people.
In looking at this question, I was immediately reminded of the work of William Faulkner, an undoubtedly well-known author in the United States. He is notorious for his complex sentences that can go on for pages. In some of them, he unapologetically uses nested parentheses.
While Faulkner sets a precedent doing this, it is not at all proof of the 'correct' usage. His motivation is quite different. I like the way Louis Rubin puts it in his essay The Dixie Special: William Faulkner and the Southern Literary Renascence:
I bring Faulkner's example up for the sake of introducing a different angle on the OP's question. It may not be the best choice stylistically to nest parentheses, but there have been literary precedents that show the practice. The example of Faulkner's usage of the nested parentheses shows that there is a purpose in his writing to convey a sense of complexity and to leave nothing out.
Parentheses are a way to stuff more ideas into a sentence than it could otherwise bear. They make life easier for the writer who is trying to capture all his ideas as they bubble up, but harder for the reader trying to make sense of it all. If you nest your parentheses, you risk losing your reader entirely.
So I'd say, in your first draft, go ahead and use as many parentheses as you want, but in later drafts you should try to eliminate them — especially the nested ones.
I think, it is acceptable. If you really being the author need it for addressing your readers, as you know them. And do you really know them?But now who would limit himself to these
As for paper text, your possibilities nowadays have really no no no no boundaries.
you can put
the additional info
in the other place
and leave so your main text
Now, as the text is edited, if you need some of these tricks, you can follow the ling that is connected to the time of edition and on the revisions page choose to look the source or markdown (such button <>).
protected by tchrist Sep 26 '12 at 18:53
Thank you for your interest in this question.
Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.
Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?