Grammar Tip – Single Quotes or Double Quotes

I am noticing a tendency for writers to use single quotes in their documents. However, this is lazy. Double quotes should be the norm. Single quotes are used in two places.

1. Use single quotes to set off material already inside double quotes.

At the last strategic planning session, the chair said, “We should review our mission statement and incorporate it in the new brochure ‘The Company That Grew.’ ”

Note: When a sentence ends with both single and double quotation marks, separate them by a space.

2. Use single quotes within a headline of a document. This allows you to save space.

Example (Newspaper Headline)
UN’s ‘mission impossible’

Mission impossible has quotes around it to indicate the words were being used ironically. Single quotes were used to save space on the line.

Readers of previous columns will remember that periods and commas always go inside closing quotation marks and colons and semicolons go outside. Yes, the placement of periods within quotation marks is a change. It occurred about 10 years ago.