How To Use Brackets In Quotes? Best Full Guide 2023

How To Use Brackets In Quotes?

Brackets can be used in a sentence to add information that isn’t essential to the main point. So do you know how to use brackets in quotes? Continue reading our blog to find out more about this topic from Penn Book.

What Are Brackets?

What Are Bracket

When we speak about brackets, we mean the square kind: [].

You may call them brackets or square brackets; either is okay. Brackets are often used in quotations because they indicate that words have been added to a direct quote.

Here’s an illustration:

Steph told her mother that “we [Steph and her brother] went to the movies the night before.”

In this case, the brackets are utilized to specify who “we” are referring to, thereby clarifying the quotation. Without the brackets, it would infer that Steph stated the complete statement when, in fact, she omitted “Steph and her brother.” When you change a statement without adding brackets, you risk misquoting it, which may have serious consequences, particularly if you’re writing officially, such as in an academic essay, report, or investigative story.

Similarly to the preceding example, bracket quotes may be used to give more information or explanation in phrases that do not include quotations.

For example: He [Mr. Jones] didn’t sleep well last night.

In this situation, the topic may not have been established enough in earlier phrases for the reader to understand who “he” was referring to. Thus explanation was provided in brackets.

What are Parentheses?

What are Parentheses

The rounded brackets that look like this are called parentheses: ( ).

They are used to supplement a text or phrase with additional information. Parentheses may contain a single word, a phrase, or even an entire paragraph of text.

In general, the language enclosed by parenthesis may be deleted completely, and the statement will still make sense. In many circumstances, parenthesis may be substituted by commas, and the text retains its sense.

Here’s an example of a statement using parentheses:

Mark was nervous about driving (even though he had his driver’s license for ten years) because of the snow.

The paragraph in parentheses could be omitted, and the statement would still have the same meaning, but it provides a little more information that the reader would appreciate.

How To Use Brackets In Quotes?

Use brackets in a paper to indicate important information that is not included in direct quotes. The brackets are used to indicate the

The information is added to the quote to explain it further. There are many ways to use brackets:

Brackets In Quotes Using

1. For more information, please correct or comment on a direct quote:

Ex. According to one student, “the [writing] center is a helpful resource.”

*Notice the [writing] added to indicate which center the student refers to.

Ex. The dance instructor eventually becomes frustrated with Teresa’s missteps and scolds her:

“…Teresa, donde estas hoy? [where are you today?]”

Notice that the brackets are used to translate the Spanish words into English.

Ex. Mrs. Martin indicated on Ava’s report card that she has been “well behaved, eager to  participate, and fiendly [sic] with her peers.”

Note: The Latin word sic (“thus, so”) is used in brackets to indicate that the writer copied the original text exactly in the quotation, but believes that the word directly before sic is an error or questionable.

2. Modifying a part of a word to indicate that it needs changes from its original form.

Ex. Original sentence: “In a paper, use brackets to signify important information added to direct or block quotes.”

The sentence included in the text: After reading the bracket handout, Sally writes her science paper “us[ing] brackets to signify important information added to direct or block quotes.”

3. To replace parentheses in parentheses

Ex. Nancy noticed that her daughter, Tabatha, tends to omit “s” sounds while speaking.

Concerned that Tabatha may need special speech assistance, Nancy consulted with the elementary school. (The school’s speech language pathologist [SLP] will need to meet with both Nancy and Tabatha.)

 *Notice that the writer places the acronym for a speech language pathologist in brackets within the parentheses

Bracket Use

Bracket Use: Quick Summary


  • To clarify the meaning of a quotation, use brackets.
  • You can use brackets to include inserted words intended to give a brief explanation within the quotation.
  • When incorporating a quote into your paper, use brackets to indicate a change in the letter case or verb form.

Do not

  • When inserting words in a quotation, use parentheses.
  • When integrating quotes into your paper, use parentheses to indicate a change in the letter case or verb form.
  • You can use bracketed material to twist the meaning of the author.


FAQs About Ways To Use Brackets In Quotes

What are brackets used for in quotations?

Square brackets are placed around any changes or inserts indirect quotations. These brackets are used in pairs and enclose words that clarify meaning or provide brief explanations.

How do you put a block quote in brackets?

Square brackets can be used to surround words that have been added but not included in the original quote. You might have a source saying, “Brenda, David went to the shop”, but you want your quote to only refer to David. You should change the sentence to “[He] went into the store.”

What is the difference between parentheses and brackets?

The punctuation mark parentheses are used to separate information from a paragraph of text. Brackets (sometimes called square brackets) are commonly used to indicate that words have been added indirect quotations.

What are pointy brackets called?

The four most common paired punctuation symbols include the bracket (or square bracket, also known as a parenthesis in British English), parenthesis (plural; parentheses), brace (curly bracket), and the inequality sign (“pointy bracket”).

Read more: Single Quotes Vs Double Quotes: What’s The Difference?


Using brackets in quotes can help to add context or provide additional information about the quote. It can also be used to change the meaning of a quote, depending on how it is used. When using brackets in quotes, it is important to be aware of the different ways that they can be used in order to ensure that you are using them correctly.

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