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Punctuation in referencing

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( ) Brackets

For main usage of brackets see the Starter Level. The following describes a further use and gives some advice about how much to use them.

Brackets within brackets

Brackets within brackets look complicated. It may be better to avoid this by wording things differently.

If you do use brackets inside brackets they need to look different. You could use square brackets inside rounded brackets.


There are several different ways of beginning to write an essay (all of them equally helpful [Drew and Bingham, 2001]) and it depends on writers which they prefer.

Limit your use of brackets

In a few subjects the use of brackets is not seen as good practice in academic work, so check with your tutors if you can use them.

Try not to use too many brackets. If you do:
  • your text may look cluttered and be hard to follow
  • it suggests you have not thought things through, if you need to keep putting in afterthoughts and additional information.

The following looks confusing.
*There are several (very different) ways (all of them equally helpful [Drew and Bingham, 2001]) of beginning to write an essay and it depends on writers (all very different individuals) which they prefer.

© Learning & Teaching Institute, Sheffield Hallam University 2004