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BRACKET


Brackets [ ] are not frequently used in general writing. However, they are routinely used in mathematics and chemistry, scholarly and historical works, transcripts, congressional hearings, and courtroom testimony.

  1. Brackets are used in mathematics to indicate that the enclosed material should be treated as a single unit. They appear, along with parentheses to denote units contained within larger units. They are used similarly in chemical names and formulas.

    • X + 5 [(x + y) (2x-y)]

  2. Brackets serve in transcripts, congressional hearings, and courtroom testimony to enclose editorial comments, explanations, corrections, or other material that is not part of the original quotation.

    • The chairman [Kennedy] thanked him for his forthright testimony.
    • The last paragraph of the report states the following [reads]:
    • I have no knowledge of that. [Continues reading]
    • Our party has always fought for social justice for the sick, the elderly, and the disadvantaged. [applause]
    • Mr. Jones. All in favor? [Show of hands.]

  3. If the brackets enclose a complete sentence, place the period or other closing punctuation before the closing bracket.

    • Our technical references (including the first Speaking Real Estate [2002]) combine depth of material and ease-of-use to those interested in the subject.

  4. In scholarly and historical works, brackets are used to:

    • enclose corrections or comments in quoted material.
    • enclose material that has replaced words or phrases.
    • enclose letters added that had been were missing.
    • enclose the form of a word that alters one used in an original text.
    • enclose capital letters that have been added.

If the brackets enclose a complete sentence, place the period or other closing punctuation before the closing bracket.

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