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Editing 101: To Quote or Not to Quote

I know that a lot of people are confused about the use of quotation marks. Though they seem to be very sure about them in their usage, so maybe they don't think they're confused about them.

Here's a really short explanation of when to use quotation marks:

  • around dialogue, such as:

"The store is open," he said.

  • around words which might be unknown (or used in a way previously unknown) to the reader, such as:

When we're talking about a store being available to the public, we refer to that store as being "open" - though its front door may not be standing open, or it may not have a physical door at all.

  • around words which might be facetious, where "air quotes" might be used if you were speaking, such as:

They say the store is "open" 24/7, but apparently that's only true if you know the owner.

Here's an even shorter explanation of when not to use quotation marks:

I saw that sign on Thursday and I'm still not sure what they were hoping the quotation marks would signify. (I also wasn't immediately sure what "open-remodel" meant, but at least I could figure that out via context.)

Even more confusing to me is the fact that it is a professionally printed sign - not just something someone dashed off with a marker on whiteboard - which would indicate that the writer was pretty darned sure it was correct.

If you're ever not sure about the use of quotation marks, shoot me a message. I promise not to be "too" snarky when I reply.

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