Angle Brackets: How and When to Use Them in English

What are angle brackets? There are many pairs of punctuation marks and every single one of them counts with unique usages in order to add more pauses, emphasizes, context, silent pauses and so much more. However, depending on the type of punctuation mark, they could be common or extremely uncommon, today we will take a look at one of the less used ones: angle brackets.

Angle Brackets

What Are Angle Brackets?

Angle brackets (also called chevrons by certain individuals) are a pair of punctuation marks ( < and > ) that are often considered a unique type of brackets of the same category as parentheses, square brackets, and even curly brackets with the main difference that they are less common by a large margin.

Even though in writing they are mostly ignored, they play a massive role in mathematics and computer science, since these often represent the less than or greater than operators.

Angle Brackets

How Are Angle Brackets Different from Other Brackets?

While other brackets are used to create emphasis on secondary ideas, angle brackets are known for being used in place of quotation marks, insert asides in the text, indicate speech in a foreign language as well as mentioning websites, but the problem is that none of these are defined as standards in formal or informal writing, meaning that the usage could differ depending on the author who relies on these rare resources.

History of Angle Brackets

Even though it has good usage in computer science, it is surprising to know that the history of angle brackets spans back to the ancient Greeks as the right-pointing angle bracket ( > ) was called a diple and was widely used as a method of drawing attention to specific lines of information, however, they were used in the margins of the text to become more visible to the human eye.

In the fifth century, the double set of diples ( >> ) started being used as a method of indicating quotations from other works, and from that point, it remained the same, at least for writing as later it would be used for important parts of web pages and mathematical operations in computer science.

Significance of Angle Brackets?

In writing, they are used to insert asides, indicate speech or text in a foreign language, and even to mention websites as it was said before. On the other hand, in mathematics, they are used as less or more than operators, which are also key resources for logical operators in computer science.

Angle Brackets Rules

Using them is pretty simple, as they are considered an informal tool, so there are not too many rules to worry about. First of all, the text must be inside a double set of angle brackets such as << Text >> in order to be noticed by the human eye, also, it is of good practice the usage of bold text to notify that it is a special punctuation mark.

A crucial rule is the one that authors should state their usage of angle brackets somewhere before the main text beings, as other individuals might use them for different purposes, leading to confusing conclusions or improper understanding of the lecture, so always specify your reasoning behind the usage of this rare element.

Example sentences:

  • The author writes, “It was a beautiful day <the sun was shining and the birds were singing>.”
  • “I never expected <to see> such a magnificent view from the top of the mountain.”
  • In the sentence, “I have <3> pets,” the angle brackets indicate a numerical symbol.
  • “She was a <strong and determined> woman who never gave up on her dreams.”
  • “He was known for his <dry sense of humor> and quick wit.”


Angle brackets are an extremely rare element in modern writing, and the only reason why they should be used is because the author wants to add unique details to the reading, but it must be stated why they are used in the text in order to avoid any kind of confusion that could reduce the value of the content.


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