My university’s guidelines about say that quotations in text should appear in single quotation marsks whereas when the writer quotes something in that paper and I am using it, I must use double quotation marks.

Now what confuses me is that I am quoting some bits from a paper about someone’s lectures, and the author of the paper gives a footnote saying the text is edited and annotated, but he doesn’t make clear which bits he annotates or he has edited himself, although this might sound simple it is a bit confusing.

Where should I use which quotation marks?

  • I edited your text to make it understandable, in particular using terms such as single and double quotation marks. Can you please check whether everything is still according to your intentions?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 16:47

1 Answer 1


The rule you are referring is probably a convoluted way of saying that:

  • In general you should use single quotation marks.
  • When the text you are quoting contains quotation markes, you should turn them into double quotation marks – no matter what they were before. (This is probably unless when the quotation marks appear in a quotation in the text you are quoting, in which case things get ugly.)

So, suppose the book you want to quote is one of the following:

Prof. Smith said “Hello” to the students.
Prof. Smith said ‘Hello’ to the students.

Then your quotation you should quote it as follows:

The book mentions: ‘Prof. Smith said “Hello” to the students.’

Or (though I would advise against using such a construction at all):

The book quotes the Professor: ‘“Hello”’

If the text you are quoting does not clarify whether something is a quote or not, this is not your problem (except that it may render it unreliable as a source of information). However, you might want to mention in general that you are quoting from a book which states that it has edited the quotes within in it.

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