We know that brackets, [these], are used for altering or adding extra information to a direct quote. For example, from this answer:

These are used to indicate that a direct quote has been edited [or altered]

I have added extra information in the brackets. I am aware of how to change the capitalization. For example, if I quote something and the first letter is not capitalized and I want to capitalize it, I will enclose the first letter in brackets. Consider that "square brackets used while quoting" is a direct quote and I want to quote it but want to capitalize the first letter

[S]quare brackets used while quoting

However, what I'm wondering is a bit different.

Here is a direct quote from this answer:

Edit. I now realise that this answer misunderstands the question.

If I want to quote it and want to change "realise" to "realize" because I have used "realize" elsewhere... and I just want to change it (i.e. change a single word internal letter), should I just enclose the s/z in brackets or the whole word in brackets:

  1. Edit. I now reali[z]e that this answer misunderstands the question.

  2. Edit. I now [realize] that this answer misunderstands the question.


Most of the style guides I read don't mention it:

  • 1
    It has to be reali[z]e; [realize] would suggest that you have changed the entire word (say, from actualise to realize). Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 7:22
  • 2
    The APA style guide says not to correct English spellings to American or vice versa in quotations, and I believe other sources have similar recommendations. blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2012/10/british-spellings.html
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 8:58
  • @Stuart F Thank you. That makes sense, but will of course (as here) at times cut across the 'maintain consistency' injunction. I've long thought it the lesser of two evils, reali[z]e etc being even more jarring. Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 18:57
  • If the spelling is wrong, the usual practice is to preserve it and then add [sic] to indicate that the error was in the original, not your own typo.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 5:44


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