Style sheets

For some reason, despite the established rules, I’m constantly having to include punctuation with parentheses are on my proofreading style sheet. There’s something inherently vague about them in my mind. Commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes are no problem; those suckers are always on the outside. It’s the periods that slow me down.

“Use a period inside parentheses only if the enclosed material is meant to stand alone as a sentence. Use other punctuation marks inside parentheses only if the punctuation is part of the parenthetical material.” –The Penguin Handbook

Same rules for AP and MLS styles. So what’s the confusion?

I think it’s that exclamation and question marks can go inside the parentheses and still have punctuation appear afterwards (annoying!). Lists also confuse me (words, sentences, etc.). Did you catch the double period? One inside for the abbreviation and one outside for the sentence. So it goes with AP style and Chicago Style.

So I’ve decided to avoid parenthetical expressions (and confusion) and refuse to end a sentence with anything in parentheses (unless the translation won’t let me).

That plan failed spectacularly. Some things just have to stay on the style sheet then. By style sheet I don’t mean CSS web design.

I mean something much simpler: notes. Basically, I divide a sheet in four parts or create a four page document. Each section or page represents a category, e.g., proper names, style, untranslated items, special. Not everything goes on the style sheet, just special details specific to the client or little tidbits that make me crazy (like the whole parentheses and periods business).

Not everyone uses style sheets, but I love them. For writing or translation work, it keeps my projects uniform, which makes for happy clients–especially repeat clients that want consistency from one project to the next.

Coupled with client glossaries, I spend a lot less time hunting and fixing. And anything that saves time and lowers stress is my friend.

What makes you crazy and how do you keep track?

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