I am trying to punctuate a reference back to an option displayed in a letter-labeled list, as one might see on a quiz in school. I have searched CMOS and StackExchange but haven’t found a precedent. Here is my passage:
There are three possibilities:
a) This thing.
b) That thing.
c) The other thing.
The answer is “c) The other thing.”
If I were reading this aloud, I would say the “c” prefix, so I want that left in the writing.
I have toyed with options including the following, but I would like to find some kind of objective evidence that one is superior to the others:
- The answer is “c) The other thing.”
- The answer is, “c) The other thing.”
- The answer is c, “The other thing.”
- The answer is c: “The other thing.”
- The answer is “(c) The other thing.”
- The answer is (c): “The other thing.”
- The answer is “c, The other thing.”
My gut preference is option 2 because it literally matches the list option including the label, but the unbalanced parenthesis has led to confusion in the mind of at least one of my reviewers. The next option I like option 5, but I don’t want the addition of the left-paren (which doesn’t exist in the list) to distract the reader from the point I’m trying to make with the passage.
Interesting debates include:
- Should I use a single paren? balanced parens? or no parens?
- Should I preface the quote with a comma? a colon? or no punctuation?