Punctuation

Q. Please help our editorial team settle a debate! Our query concerns this paragraph:

Students might offer many different explanations, such as “Selma has 3 groups of __.” or “John has __. Selma has 3 times as many.”

Is it fine to keep the period at the end of the first example when it is followed by an or and then another example? Thank you.

A. This isn’t a good idea. A period so strongly signals the end of a sentence that there are few times you can get away with one in the middle. If you have room to set the examples on separate lines, they would be more readable:

Students might offer many different explanations, such as

Selma has 3 groups of __.
John has __. Selma has 3 times as many.

If you must run in the examples, you might set them in another font or color or in curly brackets:

. . . such as {Selma has 3 groups of __.} or {John has __. Selma has 3 times as many.}.

Note the period after the closing bracket at the end of the sentence.