Blog - Proofreading and Copy Editing


Here are a few simple rules to remember when quoting!

1. Single or double quotation marks?

This is your personal choice, just ensure that you use either single or double quotation marks consistently throughout! This saves a lot of trouble when debating what to enclose in single and what to enclose in double quotation marks.

2. Quote within a quote?

Modern British practice is to use single quotation marks for quotations and double quotation marks for quotations within quotations, for example:

She said ‘The term “haemoglobin” is difficult to spell.’

Newspaper and US practice is the opposite:

She said “The term ‘haemoglobin’ is difficult to spell.”

3. When do I use quotation marks?

Quotations are either embedded or separated from the text. Embedded quotations need quotation marks – see the two examples above. Quotations that are separated from the text tend to be long quotations and are usually indented – in this case quotation marks are not needed. For example:

The definition of haemoglobin is:

    a red protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood of vertebrates;
its molecule comprises four subunits, each containing an iron atom bound to a haem group (OED)    

4. Punctuation?

If the quotation is a full, complete sentence then place the punctuation marks inside the quotation marks (and use a capital letter for the first letter of the first word):

He asked her, ‘Will you marry me?’

If the quotation is only part of the original quotation then punctuation marks go outside the quotation marks:

What does the poet mean when he says ‘purples prinked the main’?

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