How to Use Square Brackets
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.
© 2019 Davina Chime
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.