Use of Brackets

Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Brackets are used for a number of purposes:

Use #1: Sometimes, you may wish to clarify or add to an original quote. Put words that are being added to an original quote within brackets. Always put the changes in brackets, not parentheses. This tells your readers exactly how you have altered the original.
Original: She said, “I found their services invaluable.”
Amended: She said, “I found their [IT] services invaluable.”

Use #2: Use brackets as parentheses within parentheses. You will see this with bibliographic references.
Example: (For more on the topic, see The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation [2014].)

Use #3: Use brackets to show the pronunciation of a word.
Example: He mispronounced mischievous [mis-chuh-vuhs].

Use #4: Use brackets surrounding sic and italicize it. The Latin term sic is used to indicate that something written is intentionally left in the original form, which may be incorrect.
Example: She wrote, “They made there [sic] beds.”


Pop Quiz
Place brackets where needed.

  1. (For more details on brackets, see The Chicago Manual of Style 2017.)
  2. He has difficulty correctly pronouncing nuclear noo-klee-er.
  3. The instructions read, “Be sure to tighten it’s sic lid securely.”


Pop QuizAnswers

  1. (For more details on brackets, see The Chicago Manual of Style [2017].)
  2. He has difficulty correctly pronouncing nuclear [noo-klee-er].
  3. The instructions read, “Be sure to tighten it’s [sic] lid securely.”
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