Quotation marks

Use of quotation marks

Single, ‘smart’ quotation marks (‘ ’) are used:

  • to enclose the exact words of a writer or speaker; if quotations occur within quotations, use double quotation marks within the single ones

He said, ‘We have compared our new method with the “gold standard” test’.

  • to offset words or letters that would be ambiguous without quotation marks

The term ‘WHO’ is an acronym [Sometimes italics are used for the same purpose – be consistent and sparing in the use of quotation marks or italics in this way.]

If you are quoting another source, make sure you reproduce it accurately and acknowledge it. It is the author’s responsibility to ensure the accuracy of quotations. Spelling, italics and punctuation must follow the original, even when these do not follow the style of the rest of the publication. However, it is acceptable to change the parenthetical dash (eg from a hyphen to an en dash). Retain any misspelt words or other inaccuracies, but identify them as being in the original by placing sic in square brackets immediately after them:

‘The US EPA has developed a new method for detecting chlorfluazone [sic] residues in beef.’

Alternatively, for a misspelling or other minor error in the original, amend the error without using sic; however, take care not to change the substance of the quote.

Indicate any deviation from the original by an ellipsis for omissions and by square brackets for insertions:

‘Vesicular stomatitis is principally a disease of cattle, horses and pigs … with symptoms indistinguishable from those of FMD [foot-and-mouth disease].’
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Short quotations

Set short quotations in the same size font as the main text and run them on within the text with single quotation marks. If possible, give the source before the quotation rather than at the end:

It was noted in the annual report (GRDC 2012) that ‘2012 was a most successful year for the GRDC’.

If the quote does not have a lead-in phrase, place final punctuation marks within the closing quotation mark:

‘We have developed a new method.’

Where the text before the quotation leads into the quotation, use a comma as a separator, if required, and:

  • if the final full stop is part of the quoted text, place it before the closing quotation mark

He said, ‘We have developed a new method.’    
He said, ‘We have developed a new method’.

  • if the final full stop is part of the full sentence that includes the quoted text, place it after the closing quotation mark

He said he was ‘developing a new method’.

He said he was ‘developing a new method.’

If an attribution for direct speech follows the quote, place the comma inside the closing quotation mark:

‘We have developed a new method,’ he said.    
‘We have developed a new method’, he said.

When the quoted material already has a punctuation mark, such as a question mark, retain the mark that is the strongest (to avoid doubling up of punctuation):

He asked, ‘Who discovered DNA?’    
‘Who discovered DNA?’ he asked.
He asked, ‘Who discovered DNA?’.   
‘Who discovered DNA?,’ he asked.

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Long quotations

Set long quotations (20 words or longer) as a separate paragraph from the rest of the text in a ‘quote’ style (eg slightly smaller point size, indented from both margins). Use quotation marks only if there is a quotation within the longer indented quotation. Use an ellipsis to introduce the quote if it starts in the middle of a sentence. If possible, give the source of long quotations at the lead-in to the quotation:

The RACI describes itself as follows (RACI 2014):

Founded in 1917 and granted a Royal Charter in 1932, the RACI is the professional body for the chemical sciences in Australia. It acts both as the qualifying body in Australia for professional chemists, and as a learned society promoting the science and practice of chemistry.

If it is not possible to give the source in the lead-in sentence to the quote, give it at the end of the quotation, after the full stop:

FMD is an acute, highly contagious, viral infection of domestic and wild cloven-hoofed animals. It is characterised by fever and vesicles in the mouth, and on the nose, feet and teats. (Smith et al 2013)

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