Monday, September 20, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: The Square Bracket

The square bracket is a common sight among parentheses, but it remains one of the less frequently used types of punctuation. Square brackets, or usually just brackets (in the United States), are defined by the Chicago Manual of Style as "used mainly to enclose material—usually added by someone other than the original writer—that does not belong to the surrounding text. In quoted matter, reprints, anthologies, and other non-original material, square brackets enclose editorial interpolations, explanations, translations of foreign terms, or corrections. Sometimes the bracketed material replaces rather than amplifies the original word or words."

That's a lot to handle at once. Aside from their most common use, brackets have a few other places where they would show up. Let's take a look at each with an example sentence.

1. In quoted material, brackets are used to include matter not written by the original author and not belonging to the surrounding text. Example: They [the student body] were against the new schedule changes.

2. In translations, brackets are used to include a phrase or word in the original language. Example: They studied society [Gesellschaft] and community [Gemeinde] in their class.

3. Brackets function as parentheses inside of parentheses. If you need to put something in parentheses, but you are already working inside parentheses, just use brackets. Example: (She didn't know how [or even when] it had all happened.)

4. Brackets can be used to include the phonetic transcription of something. Example: He used the phonetic [fənɛtɪk] transcription in his paper.

No comments:

Post a Comment