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Are you allowed to use brackets in an essay

Parentheses and brackets must never be used interchangeably. Use parentheses to enclose information that clarifies or is used as an aside.

Parentheses and Brackets

He finally answered after taking five minutes to think that he did not understand the question. If material in parentheses ends a sentence, the period goes after the parentheses.

Commas could have been used in the first example; a colon could have been used in the second example. The use of parentheses indicates that the writer considered the information less important—almost an afterthought.

Use brackets

Periods go inside parentheses only if an entire sentence is inside the parentheses. Please read the analysis. This is a rule with a lot of wiggle room. An entire sentence in parentheses is often acceptable without an enclosed period: Please read the analysis you'll be amazed.

Take care to punctuate correctly when punctuation is required both inside and outside parentheses.

Do you use brackets the same way you use parentheses?

You are late aren't you? Note the question mark within the parentheses. The period after the parentheses is necessary to bring the entire sentence to a close. Parentheses, despite appearances, are not part of the subject.

How to Use Brackets

Joe and his trusty mutt was always welcome. If this seems awkward, try rewriting the sentence: Joe accompanied by his trusty mutt was always welcome.

Commas are more likely to follow parentheses than precede them. When he got home, it was already dark outside he fixed dinner.

When he got home it was already dark outsidehe fixed dinner.

  1. When we see them, we know they've been added by someone else. Since the information in the parentheses is part of the sentence, it must be placed inside the period.
  2. Here is an example of what this may look like. Informal writing If you've read Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs.
  3. Brackets parentheses are punctuation marks used within a sentence to include information that is not essential to the main point.
  4. MLA , square brackets should be used to enclose the three dots that symbolise ellipted material in quotations, to indicate clearly that these ellipsis dots were not present in the sentence originally. When we see them, we know they've been added by someone else.
  5. Citations If you have ever written an academic paper, then you have undoubtedly used curved brackets for your in-text citations. Such a comment can be parenthetical in relation to the main message of the text, that is, it does not add any extra information about the subject matter as such, only the writer's personal opinion or reflections.

Brackets Brackets are far less common than parentheses, and they are only used in special cases. Brackets like single quotation marks are used exclusively within quoted material. When we see them, we know they've been added by someone else. They are used to explain or comment on the quotation. When quoting something that has a spelling or grammar mistake or presents material in a confusing way, insert the term sic in italics and enclose it in nonitalic unless the surrounding text is italic brackets.

Sic "thus" in Latin is shorthand for, "This is exactly what the original material says. She wrote, "I would rather die then [sic] be seen wearing the same outfit as my sister.


In formal writing, brackets are often used to maintain the integrity of both a quotation and the sentences others use it in. Lincoln's memorable phrase came midsentence, so the word the was not originally capitalized.

  1. These thoughts are expressed within brackets and are not spoken aloud for other characters to hear.
  2. Parentheses are also used to enclose cross-references of the type found in 8. Brackets are used heavily within stream-of-consciousness writing as a way for the author to show the reader what a character is thinking without having to create dialogue.
  3. In academic writing, parentheses are also used in some reference systems both when we refer to our sources in the text and in our reference lists or bibliographies.

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