Brackets
Brackets are a form of punctuation used predominantly with direct quotes to provide clarifying information. Ronald Reagan's humorous quote illustrates this point: "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first [prostitution]." Since some people may not know what the oldest profession is, the humor might be lost without the bracketed definition. Any wording you include within brackets represents your own thoughts, separate from the original speaker or document from which you extracted the quotation.
There may be times when you find the perfect quotation to use in your writing, but it has spelling or grammar errors, or is written a bit strangely. You can still use that quotation, but you should indicate in brackets that the error was from the original document: "At the end of A Tale of Two Cities, we can assume that Lucie and Charles Darnay return safely to England to resume they're [sic] lives in peace." To indicate that the error ("they're" instead of the correct "their") occurred in the source, use brackets around the word "sic" (an adverb that comes from Latin meaning so or thus) following the erroneous portion of the quote.
A less common, but still relevant, use for brackets is when you wish to add parenthetical information within existing parentheses. For example: Stephen King's most popular novel "The Stand" (published in 1978 [the novel was made into a miniseries in 1994]) has sold about 10 million copies.

Ellipses
Parentheses and brackets both indicate additional information, but how do you indicate that information has been omitted? Or when you want to show that thoughts and dialogue are trailing off? Ellipsis points will satisfy this purpose. There will be times when you might want to omit certain parts of a direct quotation for any number of reasons. Because you are still applying information from another help with my essay source and must do so accurately, you will need to incorporate ellipsis points (formed by three periods in a row [ . . . ]) at the location in the quote where the omission occurs. There are a variety of ways to place ellipsis points.
Original quotation: "Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that ever mattered to me." --J.K. RowlingOmitting a portion of the beginning: "...failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that ever mattered to me."Omitting a part of the end: "Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential..." (Ellipsis marks at the end of a quotation eliminate the need for an additional period. You would place question marks, exclamation points, or semi-colons after the ellipsis.)
Omitting the middle: "Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential...and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that ever mattered to me."Omitting the beginning and end: "...failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was..."An important note to remember is that you never want to change the meaning of the quote with your omissions. Instead, make sure you capture the integrity of the sentence with appropriate blocks of information.

Remember that before you implement any of these punctuation forms that you decide on your purpose for doing so. It's easy to use them liberally once you start—they are fun to use—but only certain circumstances are appropriate for each.
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