Square brackets are less common than round brackets. They are primarily used in three situations.

  • Clarifications within quoted textUse square brackets to set off a clarification within quoted text.
    Small_OK The Rector said of the coming budget debate: “Never in all my years as rector have I had to make such a difficult decision about such a useful programme [grants for young researchers] affecting so many”.
  • Optional or tentative passagesUse square brackets to indicate optional passages or those still open to discussion in administrative texts.
    Small_OK The implementation of the project will be the [joint] responsibility of the School of Education [and the Office of External Relations].
  • Brackets within bracketsUse square brackets to indicate parenthetical elements that are already in round brackets.
    Small_OK A large multilateral organisation (e.g., the World Bank [WB]) has the following characteristics…

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