Rules For Using Single Quotation Marks

  acronimous  —  Grammar Tips
When it comes to punctuation rules, even the most experienced writers have hesitations. These rules are vague. So, if you found yourself doubting whether you need that quotation mark and which one should go there, read the following recommendations. Although every case is specific, some general overview of single quotation marks use will come in handy.


Most of us do not pay attention to the quotation marks that we see in the newspapers, books, or magazines. However, these have types. Strict rules dictate the use of single quotation marks or double ones.

What is the purpose of putting quotation marks?

Plagiarism is a big deal when it comes to academic writing. Previously, people built their careers on stolen ideas, and with the introduction of some punctuation rules, the academic community is trying to eliminate that issue. When you write a paper, you use ideas and arguments to support them. Every idea should be cited, meaning that the author should be identified. If you decide to put the direct speech then the rules say that you need to use the corresponding to the formatting style punctuation to highlight it. Citing the words of the person directly without introducing any changes is called verbatim.

How to differentiate between single and double quotation marks?

Among the factors you need to take into account - is the target audience. English is spoken in many countries and the specific audience is used to certain punctuation rules. If you are writing a blog post for an Australian magazine, opt for using SQM everywhere. It is normal for them to do so. However, if you are creating a material for the scholarly community, refer to the standard requirements provided by the establishment that publishes your work.

Misconceptions about quotation marks

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to punctuation. Here is the list of interesting facts related to quotation marks:
  • The first misconception is that the author’s style can be highlighted by the quotation marks. Apply italics or color text if you are writing something extraordinary that needs highlighting, but quotation marks have other purposes.
  • QMs are used to highlight humor and irony in the text. If you want to use the word in its indirect meaning, QMs come in handy there.
  • The block quotes are special because they do not work well with the QMs. Avoid any quotation marks if the quote is longer than four lines.
  • Even if the quote is in the middle of the sentence, the first word should be capitalized: Maggie said, “I will not make it today.”

Examples of SQM and DQM usage

  • The golden rule to remember is that single quotation marks are used inside the double ones. So, if you have a quote inside a quote, then put the SQM in the middle. For example: “When I said ‘now’, I meant immediately, did you not understand?”
  • Another case when SQM is used is terminology. If you are writing a scientific paper full of professional jargon, terms, and definitions, feel free to use SQM.
    AGI is a newly created field that is working on developing a ‘thinking machine’.
  • Expressing humor or indirect meaning of the word: He is our ‘friend’, so be careful what you say around him.


The usage of quotation marks is something you need to know by heart, like an alphabet. It is not an interesting or funny thing to learn, the topic is a dull piece of material. However, once you learn these rules, you can always be on the safe side.