How to solve punctuation problems
When you can’t use the recommended punctuation mark, move up or down the punctuation hierarchy and select the next mark. The highest order mark is the period, then the semicolon, then the comma, and so on down to the square backet:
For example, if you are creating a series of phrases (which you need to separate with commas) and one of the phrases contains a comma, then move up to the next punctuation mark (semicolon) to separate the phrases in the series:
To improve the response, you might consider replacing the filtrate with a saturated, heated solution; using a pre-formed, sterile culture pad; or delaying decantation until the final stage.
Similarly, if a set-off contains parentheses, you cannot use parentheses to separate the set-off from the sentence. You can either move down to square brackets and retain the outer parentheses, or you can keep the inner parentheses and move the outer ones up to an em dash:
Any eligible participant (see clause 13[a][ii]) can submit an offer.
Type the provider’s name, enclosing the token in parentheses—for example, Customer.User(Email)—and click Save.
But take care when parentheses are part of a brand name or syntax (as in the last example): they cannot be substituted with another symbol.
Style Guide: punctuation hierarchy
October 8, 2015 / Tim McAuley / 0