I'm writing a document following the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) guidelines but using British English spelling. British English typically uses single quotation marks, but I'm unsure whether to use single or double quotation marks in this context. Is it acceptable to use double quotation marks regardless? Also, if I use single quotation marks, should periods and commas go inside the quotation or outside as usual?

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    I don't know where the idea that British English uses single quotation marks comes from. A quick view of the BBC news pages shows them littered with double quotes. Single quotes are called apostrophes! Jan 21 at 11:13
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    @BrianTompsett-汤莱恩 Single quotation marks has traditionally been the preferred way to show quotes in British English but double has become more common. So both can be found and seem to be mostly a matter of personal preference. Jan 21 at 12:04
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    What are you writing this document for? If it's going to be published by an organization with copy editors they are likely to override your choices with their preferred in-house style regardless. And if not, why not just go with your personal preferences? Jan 21 at 15:40
  • Personal anecdote: I co-wrote a textbook in which our rough draft used US spelling but various aspects of British-style punctuation that we preferred. The publisher (UK-based, but aiming for a mainly US market) insisted that everything be either US-style or UK-style (according to their own internal definitions of those styles). Jan 21 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


I'm writing a document following the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) guidelines but using British English spelling

If this is what you are doing, then just do this, and for punctuation follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

Double quotation marks look fine with British English. For periods and commas inside/outside the quotation, you might have some cases where it looks like a mix of British and American. If you want to avoid that, you will just have to use a consistently British or consistently American style for everything.

Incidentally there are many other minor aspects of English, in addition to spelling and punctuation, where the two versions of the language differ: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_American_and_British_English

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