Quotation marks are a common punctuation used to denote a variety of meanings in your writing. Though double quotation marks are more common than single quotation marks, it is important to know when each type is appropriate.
Direct Quotes from a Source
Use double quotation marks to denote any portion of your writing that is copied directly from any source. When directly quoting, use double quotation marks.
According to Teschke et al. (2012), “there is a large net health benefit of increased cycling, since the risk of fatal injury is greatly outweighed by the reductions in mortality afforded by increased physical activity” (p. 8).
Use single quotation marks to denote any secondary quotation or any quoted material inside of a quoted passage you use from a text.
“Riding a bicycle is like ‘navigating the collective neural pathways of some vast global mind’ and with that came an emotional connection I did not expect” (O’Mara, 2016, p. 8).
Use double quotation marks to denote the titles of smaller works, like book chapters, journal articles, or songs.
The first song on the new album is called “On Your Left.”
The essay “Letting Go of Bicycle Grief” is featured in a collection of short stories.
NOTE: If the text you are directly quoting includes a title of a smaller work, use double quotation marks around the direct quote and single quotation marks around the title it contains. Example: “When I read ‘The Ride of Your Life’ I wanted to take off on a cross-country trip today!”
Quotations Within Titles and Headlines
Use single quotation marks for quotations within headlines or titles, such as newspaper articles.
Judge to bike thief: ‘Ride to hell’
Quotation Marks and Punctuation
Correct use of punctuation is an essential part of properly using quotation marks. The placement of punctuation depends on where the quotation marks are used in your text. Typically, punctuation will be placed inside the quotation marks, but listed below are exceptions for when punctuation is placed outside the quotation marks.
Semicolons and Colons
Place semicolons and colons outside the quotation marks when only one part of the sentence is a quote.
“Some hailed it as the century’s greatest contribution to health”; others thought bicycling far too dangerous, especially for women (Fee & Brown, 2003, p. 1409).
“The best single exercise for strengthening the pelvis and promoting healthy childbearing”: bicycling (Fee & Brown, 2003, p. 1409).
Place punctuation marks outside the quotation marks if the direct quote is not a question itself but is embedded in a larger sentence that forms a question.
“Why were early bicycle injuries called ‘Death by the Wheel’?”
Fee, E., & Brown, T. M. (2003). Bicycling for pleasure and power. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), 1409.
O’Mara, B. (2016). Letting go of bicycle grief. Eureka Street, 26(10), 3-5.
Teschke, K., Reynolds, C. O., Ries, F. J., Gouge, B., & Winters, M. (2012). Bicycling: Health risk or benefit?. UBC Medical Journal, 3(2), 6-11.