- Double quotation marks enclose direct quotations: “What was Paris like in the Twenties?” our daughter asked. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” the Chief Usher said, “the President of the United States.” Robert Louis Stevenson said that “it is better to be a fool than to be dead.” When advised not to become a lawyer because the profession was already overcrowded, Daniel Webster replied, “There is always room at the top.”
- Double quotation marks enclose words or phrases to clarify their meaning or use or to indicate that they are being used in a special way: This was the border of what we often call “the West” or “the Free World.” “The Windy City” is a name for Chicago.
- Double quotation marks set off the translation of a foreign word or phrase: die Grenze, “the border.”
- Double quotation marks set off the titles of series of books, of articles or chapters in publications, of essays, of short stories and poems, of individual radio and television programs, and of songs and short musical pieces: “The Horizon Concise History” series; an article entitled “On Reflexive Verbs in English”; Chapter Nine, “The Prince and the Peasant”; Pushkin's “The Queen of Spades”; Tennyson's “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington”; “The Bob Hope Special”; Schubert's “Death and the Maiden.”
- Single quotation marks enclose quotations within quotations: The blurb for the piece proclaimed, “Two years ago at Geneva, South Vietnam was virtually sold down the river to the Communists. Today the spunky little…country is back on its own feet, thanks to ‘a mandarin in a sharkskin suit who's upsetting the Red timetable.’”—Frances FitzGerald
Put commas and periods inside quotation marks; put semicolons and colons outside. Other punctuation, such as exclamation points and question marks, should be put inside the closing quotation marks only if part of the matter quoted.
See also: Quotation Marks: Quote/Unquote.