When you use parentheses as part of a longer sentence, the full stop (or any other punctuation) goes on the outside (like this). When the whole sentence is within the parentheses, the full stop should be on the inside. (So it goes like this.)

If you’re not sure, take the text in parentheses away. If there’s any stray punctuation hanging around then you’ve got it wrong.

Brackets [ ]

Use these when you’re interrupting a quotation to add something or clarify it. Like this:

  • ‘The two cities [London and New York] are alike in some ways, but totally different in others.’

Or, if you have a set of parentheses inside a set of brackets. Like this:

  • ‘Jan went to the shop with his list of items (Lapsang Souchong, coffee [ground, not instant] and golf balls), but all he came back with was a stapler.’

Curly brackets { }

Don’t worry about them. But if you’re interested, they’re also called squiggly brackets and are sometimes used in prose to show a series of equal choices: ‘Choose your destination {London, Paris, Madrid, Rome}’.


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