Angled Brackets Meaning and How to Use Them?

Brackets are useful punctuation tools in the written form of the English language. There are many types of brackets out there, such as the curly bracket, the square bracket, regular parentheses, and more! In this article, we will focus on the use of angled brackets in English.

What Are Brackets?

a disassembled camera showing all the brackets and bolts.
Photo by Dan-Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

The brackets represent punctuation marks ([]) used to interject text within other text. There are several types of brackets, such as the curly bracket {}, the square brackets [], typical parentheses (), and of course, the angled brackets <>. Of all of their different uses, some are more commonly used in British English, and some are the standard for American English.

Brackets are not used often in English and are almost never used in informal settings. Parentheses are the standard for many people. However, brackets can be useful in academic writing. 

Parentheses are used to clarify meaning or to insert supplemental information in all types of writing. However, (and this is especially true for students), brackets are primary components of the quoted material.

Square brackets also serve to enclose the Latin word sic, which means “so.”. The word “sic” is used in academic writing to refer to a problem that originally appeared in the source material but was not attributable to the author who used the quote.

For this type of use, we add the phrase [sic] to let the reader know that the grammar error was in the source material itself.

Square brackets help make the text clearer. The author of a paper who uses quotations with the words “it” will often use brackets to clarify the antecedent.

The writer is often offering the quote out of its original context. Since readers use context to determine the antecedent, it must be offered. 

In addition to square brackets, certain portions of a quote are also highlighted and omitted.

Angled Brackets in English

Angled brackets, or chevrons, are a pair of punctuation marks that are used to mark . It is common to consider these marks as a kind of bracket.

Angle brackets are very rarely used in writing. Math and computer programs use angle brackets more frequently than writing.

For example, a single angle bracket is commonly used to mean that something is “less than” (*) or “greater than” in math.

Angle brackets are seldom used in English. An angle bracket or double set of angle brackets can be used in some languages to contain quotation marks.

The language may be used informally to insert asides, indicate speech in a foreign language, or mention a website. However, all of these uses are rare, even in formal writing.

The angle bracket also finds use in other fields such as mathematics, physics, or computer programming. For example, angle brackets represent a data set or an action in a computer code.

When writing code, for example, you may write something like this:


Angled brackets are widely used in languages across the world, and they are also widely used in writing. They combine the elements of two one-line sentences when forming a compound sentence.

When talking about the use of angled brackets, it is used for conditions and that it helps to offset what comes first a sentence and what comes second. This keeps everything lined up the way the sentence is supposed to be read.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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