Multiple nested clauses

Subject: Multiple nested clauses
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 11:38:03 -0600

Mike Ingram wondered what to do with a sentence of the form
<<Text text text text (Text text text. Text text text. Text
text text.) text text text.>>

Mike, this simply isn't a problem you can (or should try
to) solve via punctuation. By the time any normal reader
gets to the end of the parenthetical statements, they'll
have long since forgotten the start of the sentence. You
really have two options (both rewording), depending on the
nature of the bracketed material:

1. Put the explanatory material as an introduction: "You
need to know three things before you do this step: 1, 2, 3.
Now let's do the step."

2. Put the explanatory material after the instruction as a
wrap up: "Do this. You'll know you succeeded if the
following 3 conditions are true: 1, 2, 3."

The reason you couldn't find guidance on how to punctuate
the structure you mentioned is because most style guides
simply assume that nobody would willingly create such a
sentence structure... so why create guidelines for how to
fix it? (Not a flame... well, maybe a gentle one.)

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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