Single or double quotation (speech) marks

The Quick Answer
It is normal to use double quotation marks for a quotation and then to use single quotation marks for any quotations nested therein. (It is permissible to do this the other way around, i.e., use doubles within singles.) Whatever convention you choose, be consistent.

When using quotation marks, it is normal to start with double quotations marks (e.g., "like these"). If quotation marks are then required within that quotation, you should use single quotation marks.

  • Anne asked: "Are you really going to see 'Phantom of the Opera'?"
  • The articles states: "A giant squid may have attacked the 'Marie Celeste' as the crew celebrated on the deck."

singles within doubles &ndash correct
(magazine article)
  • The Defence Secretary stood up and declared: "At 0600 hours tomorrow, "Ark Royal" will set sail with her full complement of crew."
  • (Marking this wrong is a bit harsh. There is a lot of leniency on this ruling. The only agreed rule is that singles and doubles should not be mixed at the same level.)
  • Homer Simpson said: "Maybe, just once, someone will call me 'Sir' without adding 'you're making a scene'."

See Also

Colon or comma before quotation (speech) marks? Three dots (ellipsis) in quotation (speech) marks Punctuation inside or outside quotation (speech) marks? Quotation (speech) marks for ships, plays, books, etc. Quotation (speech) marks meaning alleged or so-called