Quotation marks (” “) | Definition and Usage of Quotation Marks

Punctuation is a part of every piece of text online, in a book, or in your favorite magazine. But not everyone knows what each piece of punctuation means, beyond the obvious full stops, question marks, and exclamation marks.

In this post, we’re going to go over what quotation marks are and when you should be using them.

What Are Quotation Marks?

Quotation marks “” are used to indicate material that is being reproduced word for word, usually, this material is something someone said; whether that be taken from a real-life conversation or when you’re reporting on a piece of material online.

There are also some other less common uses of quotation marks.

When to Use Quotation Marks?

Quoting the Words of Others

There are only two ways you can incorporate quotes in your writing when you’re referencing the words of others: run-in quotations and block quotations.

Run in Quotations

Short quotations can be a part of the main text using quotation marks (this is the most common way you have probably seen quotation marks used).

Here is an example:

  • One of my favorite quotes that I read once in a book went something like this “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

Block Quotations

Longer quotations should not be a part of the main text and are referred to as block quotations and since it is set off from the main text, it is not necessary to use quotations.

Although, the style matters. Usually, block quotations will usually have a larger left margin so that the readers understand that the following text is not part of the original material.

On top of this, sometimes the block text may be in a different font or have a larger right-margin to again show that the following text is not part of the original material.

Here is an example:

  • In one of my favorite books of all time, the author wrote: “The time it takes for a man to do the dishes, is the same time it will take for a man to fix a car. When he does something he loves, he will do it much faster than if he were doing something he hates. Because of this, you should always be doing something you truly care about, if you want to see the best results for yourself.”

Writing about Letters and Words

Quotation marks can be seen used when referring to a particular word, phrase, or letter.

Here is an example:

  • In the previous sentence, “referring” was correctly spelled with two “r”s.


As an alternative to a parenthesis, which usually gets used when referring to translations, quotation marks can be used.

Though in this case, it’s necessary that the translation is set off with commas.

Here is an example:

  • My knowledge of Spanish is limited to gracias, “thank you” and hola, “hello”


Doubt quotes, or scare as they are more commonly referred to are used to put doubt on a word or phrase.

Here is an example:

  • My Dad got into an “accident” today whilst driving his car.


When inserted within a person’s real name, a nickname should appear between quotation marks.

Here is an example:

  • Timothy “Tim” Arnold.

When to Use Single Quotation Marks?

Run in Quotation Contains Quotations Marks

Single quotation marks are used when the original quotation material uses a quote within itself.

For example:

  • His Mom said, “Why did you say to your friend you stink’?”

In Headlines

In a headline, a single quotation mark is used in place of the standard double question marks, usually, this occurs if the headline includes the title of a song, a short story, or a quotation then you’ll see them being used.

Generally, though, it will be used in reference to something someone said.

Here are some examples of headlines that use single quotes:

  • In the words of the Arctic Monkeys, Stop the World I Wanna Get Off’
  • Presidential Candidate Promises Free Healthcare For All’
  • I’ll give all my wages to charity’, Says Footballer.

Quotation Marks | Infographic

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