Possessives and Attributives

Q. How would you punctuate factor(s) to show both singular and plural possessive? The sentence reads “This results in the factor(s) outcome(s) being misread.”

A. The factor(’s/s’) outcome(s)? The factor’s/factors’ outcome/outcomes? The factor(s)’(s) outcome(s)? The possibilities are all so fun it’s hard to choose just one! Seriously, just rewrite the sentence. This isn’t copping out—your sentence is hopeless. Often it’s not even necessary to indicate the singular/plural alternatives. “This results in misreading factor outcomes” applies to one or more factors.