Rules for Using Single and Double Quotation Marks
Learn when to use single versus double quotation marks.
Single Quotation Marks
In American English, the single quotation mark is most commonly used to quote someone who is quoting someone else.
For example: When asked why he preferred to sit while addressing his managers, the CEO said, "I had a professor in college who said, 'Always sit while talking to your managers so they do not feel intimidated.'"
Note that the ending period for this sentence resides inside the quotation marks, not outside.
Double Quotation Marks
The most obvious and common use for double quotation marks is to surround a quote.
Following are other uses for double quotation marks:
- Surround the title of a short work like a magazine article or television episode. Italics are generally used for longer works: In the first episode of Madmen, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," viewers first meet characters Peggy Olson, Don Draper, and Pete Campbell.
- When using a word or phrase as an ironic comment, place double quotation marks around it: She said she would do it "right away," but I don't believe she meant it.
It is not necessary to use double quotation marks around words you simply want to highlight. Using italics is a better way of highlighting or emphasizing words.