Use Brackets for Editorial Insertions

Occasionally, you may need to add words to a quotation to make the quotation more understandable to the reader or to make a correction. When you do that, enclose your words in brackets to show that the added words are your own and not those of the speaker or original writer.

For example:

When he was a kid, Jason Kidd played sports with a lot of determination. While playing football on the street, he ran with the ball, knocked over a mailbox, thought he had broken his jaw—and kept on running! However, his father, whose name is Steve, stopped him from playing football because he felt that Jason was too aggressive and would hurt himself. Fortunately, Jason kept playing basketball and became an NBA point guard. His father taught him a lot. Jason bowled when he was young, and he made excuses because he didn’t play well. His father told him, “Quit that. The reason you’re not a good bowler is you don’t practice.” Jason adds, “And he was right. Now, if I have a defect, I work at [getting rid of] it. I don’t make any excuses.”

Ohio State University football coach Woody Hayes spent a lot of time visiting ill children in Children’s Hospital. One day, he got a telephone call from a woman he didn’t know, but who had a daughter—an Ohio State football fan—with cancer in Children’s Hospital. Coach Hayes told his secretary that he was leaving for the day, he picked up a lot of Ohio States football memorabilia, and he headed to Children’s Hospital, where he spent three or four hours with the girl and some other young Ohio State fans. Player Steve Myers, who was there, says, ‘When we got there, you could tell it meant everything to the girl, and all the kids there went berserk. … Woody was just great to those kids.” In addition, Mr. Myers says, “He did that stuff all the time, and it was always [Coach Hayes speaking], ‘I don’t want to read about this in the papers, do you understand?’ He was that private about the things he did for people.”

© 2015, David Bruce, All Rights Reserved

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