Friday, 22 January 2021

Square brackets and quotes

When using square brackets in quotes, I have a metaphor that they are like 'mouse footprints in the butter' (!). 

Square brackets show where we have made changes to the author's original words to help a quote to sit well into our own narrative. They show where we have been. Where we have used square brackets, they indicate that we have: 
  • changed tense:  chang[ing]
  • cut out words:  [...]
  • dropped capitals: [r]evenue, or 
  • clarified meaning: [per week]. 
For example: 
This shift in mental model doubled the "calls per hour and minutes on the phone per week [... and] [r]evenue quintupled: callers averaged $412 [per week] before meeting the scholarship recipient and more than $2000 afterward" (Grant, 2013, p. 207). 
However, we do need to be extremely careful to use square brackets judiciously, so as not to change the original author's intent.


Sam
  • Reference: Grant, A. (2013). Give and Take: A revolutionary approach to success. Penguin

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