So in English, if an editor needed to add a comment or some clarification to a quote (in an article or something), they would use square brackets, so that the comment doesn't get mistaken as an actual part of the quote.

"Yesterday, she was seen going to the store." → "Yesterday, she [Mary] was seen going to the store." or even, "Yesterday, [Mary] was seen going to the store."

What is the Japanese equivalent of this? How would this be conveyed in a Japanese newspaper or something?

I'll give an example of what text I'm working with here, because it's kind of unique. It's for a guide to a Japanese game that's been translated into English. I've transcribed all the English text and Japanese text in the game for comparison. But sometimes there are sections of the text that have multiple variants (like a word or two changed). So instead of writing out every single one of these variants as independent lines, I've just condensed them into one line and used editorial brackets to show the different changes. Here's an example of descriptions for an item with 5 different types.

"Petrified Blood Gem. Acquire Radial Blood Gem."
"Petrified Blood Gem. Acquire Triangular Blood Gem."
"Petrified Blood Gem. Acquire Waning Blood Gem."
"Petrified Blood Gem. Acquire Circular Blood Gem."
"Petrified Blood Gem. Acquire Droplet Blood Gem."

I've condensed all this into: "Petrified Blood Gem. Acquire [Radial/Triangular/Waning/Circular/Droplet] Blood Gem."

And in Japanese, I've written it as: 血晶の化石。『放射/三角/欠け/円/雫』型の血晶石が得られる

I've been informed that using 『』 here is very incorrect as those brackets indicate spoken dialogue. What would be the best way to punctuate this effectively? As an addition to this, are slashes the best choice here too? I've heard that the interpunct is often used for lists like this.


1 Answer 1


There is no special symbol for this, but simple brackets () can be used in most cases. They are especially common in interview articles, where the editor has to fix or supplement what was actually said by the interviewee. In case you need to avoid any confusion, you can explicitly say (筆者注:~), (編注:~) or (訳注:~), which mean "author's note", "editor's note" and "translator's note", respectively.


If there are many similar notes, you can use () and add a comment like カッコ内は筆者による ("notes in parentheses are mine").

However, your problem is a little different, and there is no established convention for your problem, either. You can use simple brackets and a placeholder, like this:

※形状: 放射, 三角, 欠け, 円, 雫
(※ is a common "(foot)note" marker similar to * or †)

Or this is understandable, too:


If you believe () is not the right symbol (e.g., when the original text already contains many ()), you can choose other types of bracket such as [], {}, 《》, or 【】. As long as you use the same symbol consistently in your article, you will be understood. Still, 『』 and 「」 are not appropriate because they are primarily for quotation and emphasis.

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    Thanks so much for your response! That's very helpful. What were your thoughts on the interpunct? How would that compare to using slashes to split up the different variants? Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 3:57
  • @DavidChristy Interpunct is more intuitively associated with joining by "and", so not very much recommended unless you think already clearly disambiguated in that context. Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 5:47
  • @DavidChristy All of /, , and work, and I have no opinion.
    – naruto
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 7:24
  • I notice you switch from full-width to half-width parentheses — is that intentional / do you have a 使い分け for them? (Normally I would assume not, but since the question is about parenthesis usage... might as well ask lol) Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 17:56
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    @DariusJahandarie 個人的には印刷用なのか画面表示やWeb用なのかで使い分けています。印刷だとこのルールに従いますが、これだとブラウザではむしろ変に見えることもあるので難しいです。
    – naruto
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 2:06

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