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Note 65 – The use of square brackets [ ]

For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link – If you would prefer to dive straight into note 65, then please read on…

The use of square brackets [ ]

The Collins English dictionary (Home edition) suggests that when you want to use additional words in a quotation to make it clearer, you can put these words in square brackets, as in my example below:

“Square brackets [found to the right of the letter p on your keyboard] are not angular forms of round brackets; their function is entirely different from that of parentheses.” Collins Improve Your Punctuation by Graham King.

By doing this, the reader knows that the part in brackets wasn’t written by the author.

Graham King in Collins Improve Your Punctuation suggests three more reasons for using the square brackets:

  • Square brackets can be used to “enclose the adverb sic (from the latin sicut meaning ‘just as’) to indicate that incorrect or doubtful matter is quoted exactly from the original”.
  • They can be use to indicate that words are missing e.g. “I found [out that] she was missing”.
  • When bracketing text within brackets, you would use square brackets for the inner ones e.g. (the job she had [1985 to 1990] was at a law firm).

Finally, square brackets are used in mathematical equations.  The free online dictionary explains that these brackets are “used as a sign of aggregation in mathematical or logical expressions indicating that the expression contained in the brackets is to be evaluated first and treated as a unit in the evaluation of the whole.”

I’m sure there are more reasons for using square brackets, so please feel free to comment on this blog if you wish.  Hope you have had an enjoyable day.

Until tomorrow…


This blog:

My other blog:

My website: (includes first chapter of my book)

Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

Collins English dictionary (Home edition)

Graham King The Collins Improve your Punctuation, UK

The free dictionary –


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Please let me know what you think of my blog - constructive comments welcome. Have a great day Sandra Freelance Writer


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