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How do I make sure to punctuate my quotes within parentheses correctly? For example:

Joe did not demonstrate insight into how he might alter his behavior to improve his social interactions (e.g., “I don’t know what I did . . . they just don’t play with me!”).

Is the e.g. correct? What about the ellipsis?

And is having the exclamation inside the quote and inside the parentheses all correct?

  • Rachel, it would help if you identified your audience. Your example is correct in terms of US English as far as the punctuation you asking about goes. I might have written: Joe did not demonstrate insight into how he might alter his behavior to improve his social interactions (e.g., “I don’t know what I did. They just don’t play with me!”). – Michael Owen Sartin Jan 20 '14 at 18:48
  • Oh ok. This particular example I might use to describe a child's social abilities within the context of a psychological evaluation. So the reader would be a parent or professional and the purpose would be to describe an example of the child's social insight. I hope that helps. – Rachel Jan 20 '14 at 18:50
  • And yes, US English! – Rachel Jan 20 '14 at 18:51
  • Note, that I am editing my comment faster than you are reading it!! My analysis is based on something an old printer told me years ago. He said, "If we don't do it this way, you guys (doing the writing and editing) will argue about it until we miss deadline." – Michael Owen Sartin Jan 20 '14 at 18:53
  • the e.g. at the start of a parenthetical bothers me; I'd rather see it spelled out than standing on its own like that. So, ...interactions (for example, he said "I don't know... or (one remark he made was "I don't know ... – Hellion Jan 20 '14 at 21:46
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Your example sentence is punctuated correctly and both the "e.g." and ellipsis are correct.

One note, however, is that it is slightly ambiguous whether your quote has a long pause where the ellipsis is or whether you have edited the quote. In this context, this ambiguity is not a serious concern, and it appears as if you have not actually edited the quote. In the future, if you do edit a quote, you can remove all ambiguity by placing the ellipsis in brackets:

Joe did not demonstrate insight into how he might alter his behavior to improve his social interactions (e.g., “I don’t know what I did [...] they just don’t play with me!”).

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A sentence with a parenthetical expression should read correctly if the parenthetical expression is removed: it should flow naturally, all necessary parts of speech should be present and in a proper order, and it should be punctuated correctly. Without the parenthetical expression, your sentence would read:

Joe did not demonstrate insight into how he might alter his behavior to improve his social interactions.

This sentence is properly punctuated, so you've gotten it right.

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