How to Use Square Brackets

Square brackets are often seen as confusing, but the rules are simple. This is a grammar guide to using square brackets.

Image Credit: 
© 2017 Epytome / Used With Permission

Square brackets—or just brackets in American English—are something that you will see quite often in non-fiction writing, especially journalism or reporting. The main use of a square bracket is to add words that weren’t written by the original speaker or writer. This is mainly for clarity or to keep the quotes that are being used as brief as possible.

He [the assailant] is still at large.

What this allows the writer to do is to use only a very brief quote, rather than including an entire paragraph of someone talking, and only show the relevant piece of information.

If the insertion is at the end of a sentence then any punctuation will go outside of the square brackets.

We found evidence that the suspect had stolen them [the penny sweets].

Square brackets aren’t something that fiction writers use very often but they are very commonly used in non-fiction. As the rules are very simple, square brackets are something that you should be able to use fluently.

Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.

Join the Discussion

Please ensure all comments abide by the Thanet Writers Comments Policy

Add a Comment