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Use of Brackets & Quotation Marks

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Brackets are used in pairs to enclose figures, phrases, or sentences, most often within a direct quotation.

Use Brackets To:

Explain, Clarify, or Correct the Contents of a Direct Quotation


"It was on August 25, 1944 [1945—Ed.] that delegates representing forty-six countries met in San Francisco."

To indicate the questionable expression, place the Latin word "sic," meaning "thus," directly after it in brackets.

"George Washington lived during the seventeenth [sic] century."

"The governor of Missisipi [sic] addressed the student body."

Enclose Stage Directions for a Play


Juliet: [Snatching Romeo's dagger] . . . Oh happy dagger! This is thy sheath;

Enclose Comments Made in a Transcript


P.M Manmoham Singh: The steady rise in taxes must be halted. [Applause]

Enclose the Publication Date,Inserted by the Editor, of an item appearing in an earlier issue of a periodical

This is used in letters to the editor or in articles written on subjects previously reported. Parentheses may be used instead.


Dear Sir: Your excellent article on China [April 15] brings to mind my recent experience . . .

Quotation Marks

The main function of quotation marks is to enclose a direct quotation. Quotation marks are always used in pairs to mark the beginning and end of the quotation.

Punctuating with quotation marks is largely a matter of common sense: if a colon, semicolon, question mark, or exclamation point is part of the quotation, place it inside the end quotation mark; if it is not part of the quotation, place it outside.

In all other cases, place the end quotation mark before the question mark or exclamation point.

Use Quotation Marks To:

Indicate a Direct Quotation
Use double quotation marks to enclose a direct quotation.


"They've come back!" she exclaimed.

"It's not in the cabinet; it's on the counter," my sister shouted out.

Use single quotation marks to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

If a quotation consists of two or more consecutive paragraphs, use quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph, but place them at the end of the last paragraph only.

Mark Words or Groups of Words That Are Quoted from the Original

It was Shaw who wrote: "All great truths begin as blasphemies."

Enclose the Names of Ships and Airplanes; Italics and Underlines May Also Be Used


Lindbergh called the airplane in which he flew across the Atlantic the "Spirit of St. Louis."

We had waited our entire lives for a chance to take a cruise on the "Queen Elizabeth."

Sample Usage

Examples of Quotation Marks

"When will you be here?" he asked.

Did she say, "May I go?"

My father always said, "Be careful what you wish for."

"I don't care," she said. "What do you think?"

"Oh, what a beautiful morning!" Manoj said to himself.

Examples of Brackets

The reporter added that this woman [Mrs Meghana] had suffered severe injuries.

"He [Santa Claus] dropped down the chimney with a bag full of presents."

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