Punctuation Marks: Parentheses and Brackets


Parentheses enclose material that is an interruption of the text but adds information.

    • The park (in Washington) is always crowded in summer.
    • I know the answer (I think) to the final question.

If the material enclosed falls at the end of a sentence, the end mark is placed outside the closing parenthesis. If the material is a complete sentence within itself, the end mark is placed inside the closing parenthesis.

    • We provide a complete list of stores (see our website).
    • We provide a complete list of stores. (See our website.)


Use brackets to enclose additions to quoted material. These additions, made by editors or writers, usually clarify or comment on the material.

    • “Mark Twain said it [the river] taught him all he ever knew about life.”
    • “Virginia Woolf lived with him [Lytton Strachey] while recovering from her illness.”
    • “There were few Esquimouxs [sic] living in the region we explored.”

Brackets are also used to enclose material that falls within material already enclosed by parentheses.

    • The fall sales records are encouraging (see page 33, Monthly Sales [Table 2.1] for a detailed breakdown by product line).