Answered By: Hacherl Research & Writing Studio
Last Updated: Jan 03, 2020     Views: 45233

Square brackets are used around words that are added to a quote. These added words are not part of the original quote.

For instance, you might have a source that says "George Sinclair, Abnes Montague, and Daniel Abrams served on the H.M.S. Gannet from 1879 to 1883". If you wanted to remove the sailors' names from the quote, you could simply say "[They] served on the H.M.S. Gannet from 1879 to 1883".

Brackets can also be used with quotes to explain how you changed the quote from the original source. For example, you might write "Spider webs are 2.5 times stronger [emphasis added] than the average human hair."


Another place brackets can be used is in a reference entry, such as with this entry for a podcast:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (Producer). (2009, August 25). Protecting the hearing of the young [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from


For more information, see section 9.21 on page 292 of the APA Manual (7th Edition). See this related FAQ post on using square brackets and ellipses.