What Are Brackets?

Brackets are punctuation marks used in pairs. You can have round brackets or square brackets.

These are round brackets ( ). They are used to enclose an afterthought or additional information. They are also used to present a plural option with a singular one.

These are square brackets [ ]. They are used to make quoted text clearer by showing insertions by the current author.

Brackets are often referred to as parentheses (especially in the US).

Read more about using brackets (parentheses).

Examples of Round Brackets

Here are some examples of round brackets:
  • You are required to attend the meeting in Plymouth on Tuesday. (Avoid the A303 if I were you.)
  • Andrew Sissons (the author) lived in Tenby until the age of 16.
  • Remove the screw(s) as shown.

Examples of Square Brackets

Here are some examples of square brackets:
  • He said: "I know he [James] was last."
  • She wrote: "It compliments [sic] your eyes."
  • (Note: The term sic is the current author recognizing that the original author used compliment instead of complement.)


Round brackets look a little informal, and many writers do not like to use them in official correspondence. To avoid brackets, you can either reword your text or use dashes or commas instead.