Do You Capitalize Words in Parentheses?

The rules of capitalization are generally simple in nature, but when used with certain punctuation marks (such as quotations and parentheses), you might be confused concerning their uses.

Is the first word in a set of parentheses capitalized? Are any other words in parentheses capitalized? These are some of the most common questions that create confusion, so we’ve created a series of rules to help you get it right.

What Are Parentheses Used For?

Also called round brackets, parentheses offset information in a sentence that is not essential to its understanding. Asides, numerical detail, and explanations are the most common materials found in a set of parentheses to help provide the reader with more information about the sentence’s subject.

For example

  • I’m so glad it’s finally Friday (this week has been exhausting).

The material within the parenthesis is not required to understand that the author is glad it’s finally Friday, but it does provide a bit more information about why they feel this way.

Do You Capitalize Words in Parentheses?

There is no yes or no answer to this question. Sometimes you capitalize words in parentheses; sometimes, you don’t. Let’s look at the basic rules you need to know to correctly punctuate your parenthetical expressions.

Capitalization and Punctuation Rules

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There are only three easy rules you need to remember to ensure the words you place in a set of parentheses use capitalization in the correct manner.

Rule #1

DO NOT use an initial capital if a phrase or declarative sentence interrupts another sentence within parentheses.

For example

  • We planned our vacation in advance (it’s never too early) so we could create a budget.

Rule #2

USE an initial capital if an exclamatory or interrogative sentence interrupts another complete sentence. Also include the punctuation mark within the parenthesis.

For example

  • We planned our vacation in advance (It’s so exciting!) so we could create a budget.
  • We planned our vacation in advance (Is it ever too early?) so we could create a budget.

Rule #3

USE an initial capital if a complete sentence falls between two complete sentences. Also, include the end mark within the parentheses.

For example

  • We planned our vacation in advance. (I was impatient to wait any longer.) It was easier to create a budget with the prior planning in place.

Let’s Review

When an exclamatory or interrogative sentence interrupts a complete sentence in parentheses, an initial capitalization in required. The same is true if the parenthetical expression falls between two complete sentences.

Do not use capitalization if a phrase or interrogative sentence interrupts a complete sentence.

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