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Brackets ( [ ] ), sometimes known as square brackets, are similar to parentheses in that they are used to contain information that does not impact the overall grammatical structure of the sentence. However, rather than indicating information that is supplemental or incidental, brackets are usually used within quoted speech to indicate that a writer has added material to the quotation to provide clarifying or explanatory information.
square brackets, parentheses, braces - Square brackets were formerly called crotchets, round brackets are commonly called parentheses, and curly brackets are called braces; the punctuation called brackets derives from the bookshelf type, implying that, in writing, these marks "lift up" a section of a sentence.
See also related terms for punctuation.