[Brackets]

Brackets are like squared off parentheses; they are not to be confused with {braces}, which are parentheses with a bulging weight problem resulting in “muffin top.”

When do you use brackets?

Brackets are used to insert words in quoted matter for explanatory, correctional, or commentary reasons, or to enclose insertions that take the place of or slightly alter the original text.

Example: 

Before the judge she testified, “I went to LeRoy [NY] to visit my mom. My brother [Jim] was there, too. She [her mom] was just fine when I left her.”

Brackets are also used as parentheses around phrases that include parentheses. This is preferred to stacked or nested pairs of parentheses because it removes any doubt as to which open parenthesis goes with which closed parenthesis. Nest the parentheses inside the brackets.

Example:

The oil production increased considerably after the workover [performed by Servico Enterprises (2008)].

Brackets are used in mathematical expressions to group together expressions to be treated as a unit, and brackets are sometimes used in chemical formulas.

Bet You Didn’t Know:

Brackets cannot be transmitted over newswires, so use only parentheses in press releases.

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