Writing for Business

Jun 24 2009   5:47PM GMT

When to use quotation marks

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

typing Which is correct?
The focus group for the new product thought the marketing approach was ___________.
a. “old-fashioned”
b. old-fashioned

Answer: b

Explanation: Don’t use quotation marks to set words off unless the meaning is unclear and the word known only in certain contexts.

I was inspired to write today’s question by a document I came across online referring to “turmoil” in the financial markets. It’s often unclear why people chose to use quotation marks. I’m still not sure what they were trying to convey. In business writing, of course, clarity is especially important. The meaning of the sentence isn’t subverted here but the use of superfluous quotation marks doesn’t reflect well on the writer.

We all have a pretty good idea about what continuing turmoil in financial markets means. Otherwise, you might use quotation marks to express irony — for example, if you said “stability” of the financial markets.

David Davies’ AP style tip sheet offers more information about when — and when not — to use quotation marks.

I love The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. (Note: I did not say that I “love” it — that’s because it would throw the whole affair into question.)

2  Comments on this Post

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  • 000000000000000000000000000000
    Excellent post! In the fifth paragraph (if I'm counting correctly), I'm assuming you meant quotation marks instead of question marks.
    10 pointsBadges:
  • Jaeo
    So glad you liked it! "Thanks" for catching my "error."
    0 pointsBadges:

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