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I am writing in a description of three items in a thesis on Particle Physics, and I can do it in one line in theory. If there were just two items, e.g. A and B, which produce results C and D, I could write it like so:

When using A (B) to estimate the upper limit, the best fit result is C (D)...

where A is associated with result C, B is associated with result D.

I wondered if there was a convention for three items that you'd ever come across? Or would this just be 2/3 separate sentences? It's just the following don't look right, I wondered if there was a convention people had seen in publications previously?

Ex.1. When using A (B) (C) to estimate the upper limit, the best fit result is D (E) (F)...

Ex.2. When using A (B (C)) to estimate the upper limit, the best fit result is D (E (F))...

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    This is a bad convention even with two parallel items, and it becomes worse with three. We should never write in a way that requires readers to scan a sentence multiple times to understand what we're trying to communicate. I strongly encourage you to use separate sentences/phrases for each item; your readers will thank you. Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 0:07
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    At the very least you could write "When using A (resp. B) to estimate the upper limit, the best fit result is C (resp. D)" so that the reader has a chance to understand your construction. Otherwise it just looks like B is a clarification of A and D is a clarification of C.
    – Stef
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 8:01
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    @Stef GregMartin Just to add some context, in my experience this convention is mainly used in journal articles with strict word/length limits. When every word matters you need compact ways of writing things, and your suggested "resp." is very likely to be left out. Of course, a thesis is unlikely to be subject to such strict limits so the convention might as well be avoided entirely.
    – Anyon
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 18:05
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    Skit on triple parentheses: youtube.com/watch?v=0N9nRbwJdOA Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 21:17
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    I agree with @Anyon, this is a common convention for listing two items in papers published in my collaboration, however I think \at Greg Martin has it right here, in that for a thesis like this, it's probs better to write as three separate sentences. But thanks for the advice on all sides Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 9:27

2 Answers 2

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I wouldn't use parenthesis for this at all, but rather use 'respectively':

When using A, B or C to estimate the upper limit, the best fit result is D, E or F respectively.

This becomes a bit harder to read if you have many objects to list, but for three I think it would be fine.

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    Ah, of course, didn't even think of that. Reads far nicer that way! Thanks! Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 16:49
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Another option besides the good answer from Stephen McMahon would be:

When using A (B, C) to estimate the upper limit, the best fit result is D (E, F)...

or, based on Stef's comment,

When using A (respectively B, C) to estimate the upper limit, the best fit result is D (E, F)...

It is slightly less clear than a more explicit sentence would be, but is a little more concise and might work well in certain contexts where brevity is required or the construction will be used frequently.

I would not use either of the suggestions in the original post, and I think they would lead to confusion.

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    May I suggest "When using A (respectively B, C) to estimate the upper limit, the best fit result is D (respectively E, F)". Otherwise the reader has no chance to guess that B and C are alternatives to A and not a clarification of A.
    – Stef
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 8:02

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