What’s Up with Those Single Quotation Marks?

4. APA (2010, p. 92) says to use double quotation marks to indicate a quote within a block quotation, as in the example that follows:

Ex., Miele (1993) found the following:

The “placebo effect,” which had been verified in previous studies, disappeared when [only the first group’s] behaviors were studied in this manner. (p. 276)

In the previous example, the writer wishes to call attention to the phrase “placebo effect.” Since this quote has more than 40 words (I didn’t put the whole quote, for the sake of brevity), the writer has blocked the quote; this means that every line of the quote is indented. Therefore, no quotation marks are needed around a block quote, as the indenting signals a quote. So if quotation marks are needed to call attention to a phrase, then we start with double quotation marks. That is why “placebo effect” is in double quotation marks rather than single quotation marks. Some people may get confused and think that this phrase should be in single quotation marks, as it is a quote within Miele’s quote. We don’t put single marks because we already know it’s a quote due to the blocking; therefore, we start with the double quotation marks.

5. Another use of double quotation marks is when you wish to give the translation of a foreign word. You can put the translation in double quotation marks or in parentheses. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS, 2003, p. 291) offers the following example:

The Prakit word majjao, “the tomcat,” may be a dialect version of either of two Sanskrit words: madjaro, “my lover,” or marjaro, “the cat.”

6. Use double quotation marks for a word used as a term.

Ex., What do you suppose “liberty” meant to Mr. Henry? (Bell, 2008, p. 128).

In the previous example, we are asking about what the term “liberty” meant to someone. So quotation marks draw attention to the term.

7. Merriam-Webster’s Guide to Punctuation and Style (1995, p. 51) says to use quotation marks when you wish to highlight the words themselves.

Ex., He went through the manuscript and changed every “he” to “she.”

This entry was posted in Academic Writing, Punctuation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.