0

How do I add additional information to an item within a list without making it seem unclear?

  1. The cars in the lot were bright colours such as red, many models such as Ford and Toyota, and missing parts such as tires, bumpers, and engines.

If a comma is needed before such as it makes the sentence unclear.

  1. The cars in the lot were bright colours, such as red, many models, such as Ford and Toyota, and missing parts, such as tires, bumpers, and engines.

Semi colon solution:

3.The cars in the lot were bright colours, such as red; many models, such as Ford and Toyota; and missing parts, such as tires, bumpers, and engines.

Bracket solution:

  1. The cars in the lot were bright colours (such as red), many models (such as Ford and Toyota) and missing parts (such as tires, bumpers, and engines).

Is there any other way to interject the additional information? The format of a list within a list comes up often writing scientific papers and I want to know if there are any solutions that are clear without using an obnoxious number of semi colons or brackets in a single paper. In such a situation would sentence 1. be acceptable?

To clarify, this is not the actual sentence that I am editing, just the format. Please do not reword. My question is soley on punctuation- if there is a solution other than using ; or (xx), or if it would be acceptable to omit the commas in a 'list within a list' or 'such as within a list' situation.

  • Sentence 1) seems perfectly acceptable and reads quite well. – Jascol Jun 26 '15 at 16:22
  • Is this an actual sentence from a scientific paper? If so, I'd probably rewrite it to avoid the issue entirely, as (at least out of context) it appears to be attempting to convey more information than it is generally necessary for a single sentence to encompass. If this is just a prototypical example, could you perhaps give another example, closer to what you're actually working with in scientific papers? For this example, there's nothing strictly incorrect about 1), but 3) is my preferred solution. – webbcode Jun 26 '15 at 16:31
  • 2
    There is lack of parallelism in your example. 5. The cars in the lot were in bright colours, such as red. There were many models, such as Ford and Toyota. And almost all had parts missing (such as tires, bumpers, and engines). – Edwin Ashworth Jun 26 '15 at 16:36
  • It is not the actual sentence, just the format I am working with. – CarlNought Jun 26 '15 at 16:38
  • You may like to look at 'How to punctuate lists that are nested to three levels?' and 'Strange sentence structure from a piece by Paula Gunn Allen' here, but I'm pretty sure there's a real duplicate. Closely related is Do I use a semicolon before and in a complex list?. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 26 '15 at 16:39
1

Obey your manual of style, either the one you've selected or the one thrust upon you. The Chicago Manual of Style requires that semicolons separate internally-punctuated lists. For instance, semicolons will serve to distinguish list items from their appositives. Depending on your venue, you might want to consider bullet lists to let vertical whitespace do the disambiguation.

In any case, strive to make your lists parallel, sensible, and not misleading. Cars are not colors; neither are they models. "Missing" is a long way from it's associated verb "were," and may lead your reader to expect that "missing parts" could become a subject.

"The cars in the lot sported paint jobs in bright colors, like fire-engine red and cerulean blue; were of various manufacture, including Ford and Toyota; and were missing various parts, from bumpers to engines."

  • This uses acceptable parallelism. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 26 '15 at 16:45
0

The cars in the lot were:
.....bright colours, such as red,
.....many models, such as Ford and Toyota, and
......missing parts, such as tires, bumpers, and engines.

row of stops represents inset, hard spaces

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.