Tag Archives: use of quotation marks

Quotation Marks, Part 3


If a person has a nickname commonly associated with the given name, don’t use quotation marks around the nickname. For example, just write James (Jim) Cooper. But when the nickname is unexpected, use the quotes: James “Hotshot” Cooper.

Yogi Berra’s given name was Lorenzo Pietro, later anglicized to Lawrence Peter. At some point he acquired the nickname “Yogi,” but before long no one remembered the Lawrence Peter part and he became Yogi without the quotation marks.

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Quotation Marks, Part 2


Sometimes we write a document in which we use a word in a way that differs from its more usual meaning. If you write that a location is filled with bugs, you need to put that word in quotation marks. Otherwise, people will be rushing to call an exterminator.

However, after the first use of bugs, omit the quotes for that word and for all other forms of it (bugged, bugging, etc.). You’ve already clued your readers in to the fact that you are referring to listening devices. No need to call an exterminator.


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Other Uses for Quotation Marks

You know to use quotation marks around directly quoted speech or writing.  Here are other conventional uses of them:

1. Use quotation marks around titles of movies, songs, short stories, chapter titles with names (not Chapter 10, for example), essays, article names and short poem titles. (You get to decide the cutoff point between short and long poems.)

2. When you use a word in an atypical way, for example:  Tomorrow’s test should be a “killer.”

3. Words referred to as words:  Every time she says “but,” you know something bad is coming.

Book titles, magazine names, newspapers, operas and plays are conventionally set in italics.

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