How to use Brackets () or Parentheses


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Punctuation tips – how to use Brackets () or Parentheses

Punctuation tips - how to use Brackets () or Parentheses

Use brackets to enclose words not essential to the meaning of the sentence.  Usually brackets contain words that add information, clarify or explain.

Use brackets to enclose:

Non-essential information
The crew of seven (the maximum allowed) will all race tomorrow.

References or authorities cited
The dictionary (Concise Oxford) is a good guide.

Directions in the text
The firm’s sales rose by ten per cent (see attached tables).

Numbers or letters in lists
1) Introduction    a) Introduction    (i) Introduction
Note:  A better way is to use a period.  1. Introduction or A. Introduction

Square brackets []

Use square brackets to set off words or figures used within round brackets.

Use square brackets to enclose:

Non-essential information within round brackets
The revised insurance policy covers all the company’s marine craft (powered boats [including steam] and sailing boats) against fire.

Note: This is often clumsy and you should try to rewrite the sentence.

To show any editorial comment added
He said, “The new officer [Mr James] should arrive today.”

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