Using Parentheses Instead of “Respectively”

In MSCD 12.328, I say that respectively serves to indicate that each item in a list earlier in a sentence is to be paired with its counterpart in a list that follows and contains an equal number of items, as in The first and second prizes went to Marie and Frank, respectively.

But in a recent redrafting project, it struck me that if the elements of the list earlier in the sentence don’t constitute the subject of the sentence, respectively can be awkward. In such instances, it might be better to use paired sets of parentheses, as in the following two sentences:

Promptly after termination of this agreement (or any given SoW), the applicable one or more Acme Entities shall pay the Vendor any amounts owed for Services performed and Deliverables accepted, if any, under this agreement (or that SoW) before termination. The applicable one or more Acme Entities shall also pay the Vendor promptly after performance any amounts owed for Services performed and Deliverables accepted, if any, under this agreement (or any given SoW) after termination of this agreement (or that SoW).

Here are the same two sentences revised using respectively:

Promptly after termination of this agreement and any given SoW, the applicable one or more Acme Entities shall pay the Vendor any amounts owed for Services performed and Deliverables accepted, if any, under this agreement and that SoW, respectively, before termination. The applicable one or more Acme Entities shall also pay the Vendor promptly after performance any amounts owed for Services performed and Deliverables accepted, if any, under this agreement and any given SoW after termination of this agreement and that SoW, respectively.

In this instance, I vote for using paired sets of parentheses rather than respectively, but I’m open to persuasion.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.