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10.1.7. Brackets

Round brackets. These are used, much like commas (see Section 10.1.6(c)), to admit an insertion into the text which is not essential to its sense:
The committee approved the 2014 budget (which was finalised on 3 January 2013).

Never put a comma before the opening bracket. If a whole sentence is in brackets, the full stop must be placed before the closing bracket.

A second set of round brackets (not square brackets) can be used to set off text that itself contains text in brackets:

The conclusions of the analysis (in particular regarding fair trade, the environment and transport (including green cars)) highlighted the following:

However, to avoid confusion, it may be better to use dashes (see Section 10.1.8(a)):

The conclusions of the analysis – in particular regarding fair trade, the environment and transport (including green cars) – highlighted the following:

Where possible, consider breaking up long, complicated sentences into a series of short sentences.

When citing numbered paragraphs from legislation, use a pair of brackets closed up to the article number:

Article 3(1), Article 3(1)(a), Article 3a(1), etc.
Square brackets. These are used to make editorial insertions in quoted material:
‘They [the members of the committee] voted in favour of the proposal.’

They may also be used in administrative drafting to indicate optional passages or those still open to discussion.

In mathematical formulae (but not in text), square brackets are used to enclose round brackets:

7[4ab – (2nm × 6bm) × nm] + 7a = 1240
Last updated: 22.4.2015
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