Quotations

Q. I am having a serious debate with a colleague concerning interpolations/alterations to quotations. We are quoting a source that uses abbreviations in the copy: “A WBS displays. . . .” I believe the correct way to provide the missing information to clarify the abbreviation is the following: “A W[ork] B[reakdown] S[tructure] displays. . . .” However, she believes it should read: “A WBS [Work Breakdown Structure] displays. . . .” Can you please clarify which is correct and if interpolations/additions should always come after the item you are trying to clarify. Thank you for your help with this!

A. Either way is fine, but the second version is easier to read, and more clearly introduces the reader to the abbreviation WBS. It is indeed our practice to place the information in brackets after the item we want to clarify, as in your second version. In some cases, this means that the abbreviation will follow in parentheses: “A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) . . .”