I found some posts on whether it is acceptable to nest parentheses (e.g. here) but there is no discussion yet about which parentheses should be used when nesting, and how. These are some alternative methods that one could adopt to spell the same sentence with nested parentheses. Which one do you think is right?
- The nested and the nesting are in the same style
Example: Nested parentheses are ugly (as we saw in example (1), (2) and (3))
- Like in maths: nesting in square brackets, nested in simple
Example: Nested parentheses are ugly [as we saw in example (1), (2) and (3)]
- Internal parentheses need to go, and is substituted by some other sign
Example: Nested parentheses are ugly (as we saw in example -1-, -2- and -3-)
- External parentheses need to go (nesting is illegal)
Example: Nested parentheses are ugly, as we saw in example (1), (2) and (3)
My feeling is that (4) is preferable when possible, then (3), then (1). Clearly (4) will not always be possible (syntax may demand parentheses), and also (3) could create problems (for instance, it may introduce a confusing inconsistency in how one refers to the numbered examples). I find (2) almost offensive for a text in natural language (rather than mathematical notation).
I often find myself forced to used nested parentheses, even if I hate them. Any advice on which form is more acceptable would be very welcome!