Writing style tip: how to use different types of brackets

There are three types of brackets:

  • round brackets ( ), often called parentheses
  • square brackets [ ]
  • angle brackets < >

Round brackets (parentheses)

Use round brackets to add extra information to a sentence. You can use em rules or commas instead of brackets.

We plan to hold a writing seminar (originally scheduled for last year) in July.
We plan to hold a writing seminar—originally scheduled for last year—in July.
We plan to hold a writing seminar, which was originally scheduled for last year, in July.

Round brackets and punctuation

If the words inside the brackets aren’t a complete sentence, the full stop or question mark that ends the sentence goes after the brackets.

We’re coming on Friday (31 May).

If the words inside the brackets are a complete sentence, the full stop or question mark that ends the sentence goes inside the brackets.

We decided to hold the meeting on Monday. (The secretary couldn’t come any other day.)

Square brackets

Use square brackets to indicate that you have added words or comments that weren’t in the original material.

‘I appreciate it [the nomination], but cannot accept.’

Angle brackets

Angle brackets are often used to enclose email or web addresses.

Email the coordinator <coordinator@xx.com> who will collate all the queries.

Subscribe to Mary Morel’s e-newsletter to the right of your screen.

To learn more about grammar, register for one of Mary’s online grammar programs.

 
 

online grammar
Copyright © 2013 All Rights Reserved

Design by mel anderson | Webdev by tony cosentino