When Should I Use Single Quotation Marks?

When Should I Use Single Quotation Marks?

Dear editors,

There?s been some confusion around when to use single quotation marks. Should single quotes be used for a brief concept? A quote without attribution? To denote slang or jargon? To define a foreign word?

The answer is simple: No.

There are two instances when you should pull out the single quotes (I?ll get to those in a second), but in general, stick to double quotation marks. Here are a couple recent instances of single quotes that I changed to double quotes:

If you?re ?from away,? as in anywhere but Maine, you could easily be diverted by a MOOSE XING photo op or a hand-scrawled advertisement for $14 lobster rolls.

The ?help yourself? setup encourages lingering on a lazy weekend morning.

So when should you use single quotes?

1) Use single quotes for quotes within quotes.

And if you have a quote within a quote within a quote (!), alternate back to double quotes ? and so forth! A recent example, courtesy of a Frank Lloyd Wright day story on a utopian FLW-designed community in New York state:

?People say, ?Come on, Roland, you?re being romantic. That was then, this is now,?? he tells me.

2) Use single quotes in heds.

If you?re quoting something in a hed, use single, rather than double, quotation marks.

Similarly, use single quotation marks instead of italics in heds (for book and movie titles, for instance).

Copy Error of the Week

Alissa Walker and Kelsey Keith spotted a stunning peek/peak mixup in the New York Times this week:

Image for post


It should be sneak peek ? mountaintops have nothing to do with it. On that note, it?s worth reiterating that if you?re not sure about a word or phrase, take a minute to look it up or ask me.

If you spot an especially egregious copy error ? in a newspaper, in a book, on a sign ? send it my way for a chance to be featured in this exciting newsletter!

Copy News

We had lots of new additions to the word lists this week: row house, lightbulb, Prairie School, Prairie style, terra cotta, inglenook, e-bike, veranda (notverandah), winemaker, chimichurri, jack cheese, Monterey Jack, pepper jack (do you sense a theme?), skee-ball, and maitre d?. Let me know anytime if you have questions about how to style or spell words.

I also made a headline capitalization reference doc for Eater editors. I?ve noticed some consistent headline capitalization issues, so if you?re writing for Eater, I recommend keeping this doc open for the next week or so to refer to every time you write a headline. Don?t trust that you know all the headline capitalization rules ? it?s all too easy to let a lowercase is slip in!

Have a great week,



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