To incorporate terms within a quote that are not part of the original quote, use square brackets. For example, if the meaning of a quoted text is unclear, words contained in square brackets might be added to clarify the meaning.
Brackets, often known as square brackets, are commonly used to indicate that words have been added to a direct quotation. When quoting a person or document, it is often essential to add a word or two to offer enough context for the quote to make sense. In these cases, using brackets indicates that additional words have been inserted by the editor.
This may be necessary because otherwise the quote would not make sense when read out loud. For example, if I were to read out loud "It's me, John", most people would assume that I was talking about someone else named John. But if I added "I'm calling because..." before ending the sentence with "...me, John," then everyone will know that I am referring to the same person as the one quoted above.
Similarly, if I were to read out loud "The dog wagged its tail", most people would assume that I was talking about someone else's dog. But if I added "The dog owned by..., who lived at 123 Sandford Road, wagged its tail" before ending the sentence with "...me, John", then everyone will know that I am again referring to the same person as the one quoted above.
In other words, brackets are used when quoting people or documents to indicate that more words were said/written than originally thought.
When authors insert or change words in a direct quotation, they use square brackets——to indicate the alteration. The brackets, which are usually used in pairs, surround words that are meant to clarify meaning, give a brief explanation, or assist in integrating the quote into the writer's phrase. For example, here is a quotation from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet." An editor might change "would" to "could," so the quoted sentence would now read "What's in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet." In this case, the word change is obvious, but sometimes it isn't. If an editor were to change "rose" to "car", for example, the quotation would now read "What's in a name? That which we call a car/By any other name would smell as sweet." In this case, the word change is less clear, but still evident. The editor has taken one word out and replaced it with another, so brackets are needed to distinguish the changes.
Brackets also appear around words that replace entire sentences or paragraphs. For example, if someone was quoting a passage of text and wanted to include only part of it, they could insert a bracketed phrase to do so.
These alterations may be necessary if the quoted language is ambiguous, if the original wording is difficult to understand, or if the addition or removal of information is important to the overall tone of the essay.
Brackets can also be used to introduce explanatory material or documents referred to within the source material. For example, if the source text mentions the work of one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, the bracketed reference would allow the reader to learn more about this person by consulting other sources.
In academic writing, citations using parentheses are often required by publishing houses or journal editors. Although an author cannot add content to a citation, they can decide what information should not be included. For example, if citing a book review, the author could choose to leave out the name of the book reviewed or the reviewer's opinion of it.
When referencing a website, it is common practice to include the URL (uniform resource locator) within the body of the text. This makes it easier for others to find again. In general, URLs are divided into three sections: domain names, sub-domains and folders.
Square brackets are used in books and articles to include words that clarify or remark on a statement, even if they were not initially stated or written. For example, here is an excerpt from "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain: "He was a hard taskmaster, for which we children were in part responsible." The last sentence clarifies that it was we children who were hard on Tom.
In academic writing, they are used to indicate material that should be included but was left out of the initial work because of space limitations or other reasons. For example, a scholar might include some relevant passages from earlier works by the same author when discussing her or his own views on a subject.
Square brackets can also be used in mathematics to denote sets. For example, let's say you want to find all the integers that are both odd and less than 10. You could write this as 0 3 5 7 9.. 8 since each number in this set is odd and and is less than 10. But using square brackets makes the calculation easier: [0,3,5,7,9,...].
Finally, square brackets are used in computer programming to indicate a range of values. For example, the value of variable x could be between [1,10].