Posted by: episystechpubs | September 9, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Single Quote Marks

I’m almost afraid to breathe: the Symitar Education Conference begins today. The Education half of our department is worked into a frenzy of development, session practices, and rounding up presenters; the Technical Publications half of the department is also busy helping with presentations, room monitoring, and working in the Tech Expo demonstrating our wares to clients; and then there’s Editing, the third half of the department. 🙂 Okay, my math is better than that. We’re only about 14% of the department worker bees, but we do all of the editing and then buzz in during the rest of the week to help anywhere else we can.

That said, I’ll do my best to stay true to all of you with a little bit of Editor’s Corner each day.

Today I’m here to tell you about a trend I noticed in some of the SEC submissions: the single quote (Ꞌ). In the English language, as practiced here in the USA, there are three primary reasons to use single quote marks. Since, as you will read, these circumstances are rarely seen here at JHA, stick with double quotes (") to be safe!

Reason 1: The Associated Press (AP Style) uses single quote marks for quotations in headlines. Unless you are writing news stories for AP, your best bet is double quotes.

Reason 2: Some disciplines (e.g., philosophy, theology) use single quotes to call attention to words that have a special meaning. Since our world of finance doesn’t fit under either of those topics and more people use double quotes or italics to perform that same job, again, I’d stick with double quotes.

Reason 3: Quotes within quotes. This is the one time when you might see single quotes used in an acceptable manner here at work. It is not often we have the opportunity to use quotes or dialog in our client-facing documentation, but if the need arises you can use single quotes. What do I mean by quotes within quotes? Here are a few examples from the Chicago Manual of Style:

“Don’t be absurd!” said Henry. “To say that ‘I mean what I say’ is the same as ‘I say what I mean’ is to be as confused as Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. You remember what the Hatter said to her: ‘Not the same thing a bit! Why you might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see”!’ ”

“Admit it,” she said. “You haven’t read ‘The Simple Art of Murder.’ ”

Note: It is common for the typesetter or printer to add a half-space between the single quote and double quote when they are used together.

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

www.symitar.com

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