1. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    Punctuation Quotation Marks--usage

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by aikoaiko, Mar 12, 2014.

    Hi Everyone!

    I saw a question raised in another post that I've been wondering about myself, so I thought I'd ask about it here.

    There seems to be a current trend (by some of the more modern writers), to substitute single quotation marks for double ones in dialogue. For example, instead of:

    "My name is George."

    ---we're seeing things like:

    'My name is George.' or My name is George.

    I realize the first example is standard, but if I had the choice myself I would actually prefer the second since it's neater and more streamlined and it seems to interfere less with the print.

    Can anyone tell me what (if any) rule exists in this case and if the double quotation standard is inviolable in the publishing world? I mean, clearly there are authors who disregard convention (Cormac McCarthy, especially), but I wondered what the current 'position' was on this.

    Thanks!:)
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Apparently the single quote marks are a European thing, though I'm only vaguely familiar with it. As for no quotes, I've read you can do that but I would never use that convention and very few people do.
     
  3. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    No, I wouldn't use the no quotes either, though clearly Cormac McCarthy does and I think (if I remember right?) Donna Tartt didn't use them in the book 'The Little Friend' either. I heard McCarthy say in an interview that if you are good enough you don't need them, but even he has to use commas and stuff somewhere on occasion:).
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Quite a few writers don't use quotes. It's a stylistic choice and one that I've come to really like.

    Regarding double or single quotes, I've noticed that more and more writers, even ones in the UK, are using double quotes instead of single quotes. I guess the times are changing.
     
  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Strange that... maybe it's due to the point in time I passed through the education system, but I was taught to use doubles for direct speech, singles for reproduced text. There was never any question of doing it vice versa. But then again, I was taught to add from right column to left and apparently kids are taught to do it from left to right these days.
     
    sunsplash and cutecat22 like this.
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Do you know if most modern novels published in the UK use double quotes?
     
  7. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I have six books of modern general fiction presently sitting on my nightstand. Seems to be a 50/50 split.

    I'm starting to think my mind doesn't pick up on usage when reading, the same way it does when I'm writing. I guess that's what happens when exposed to different lines of thinking—it gets a bit blurry.
     
  8. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I prefer the double quotation marks for direct speech. I can't say I really noticed it whilst reading until I started writing seriously. I find it strange how being a writer has affected the way I read other peoples books. Not in a bad way but possibly more in a critical way.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    american rule is double for dialog and quotations... singles are properly used only for a quote within a quote... the UK rule used to be the reverse, but they've pretty much switched to our way now...
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2014
  10. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    Thanks, Mammamaia! I've been using single in my MS just because I like it better, but I guess I'd better switch back:(.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that would be wise, if you hope to be published in the US... hugs, m
     
  12. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    I mainly see single, and I've always understood that this was to save money in printing. It's a tiny bit of ink, yes, but thousands will appear in each novel, and if you're printing thousands of thousands of novels...

    I too, however, am stuck with which to use when writing what will become my manuscript for publishing. I've tried to use single, but I always just want to do double, so I've resigned myself to going double, and Find + Replacing if I need to. Sounds like a plan, right?
     
  13. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    LOL! I have the opposite problem. For some reason those little double marks annoy the heck out of me. I have some kind of issue with excess junk cluttering a page, and though it's already littered with words, commas, and other forms of punctuation, the damn phobia continues:).
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what you see in books has nothing to do with what you must do in mss you'll be submitting to agents/publishers...

    if you want those folks to take you and your writings seriously, you'd better punctuate your dialog correctly...
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Then there's Roddy Doyle, who in The Commitments used long dashes to signal the beginning of a quote and just the dialogue tag at the end. Given the long stretches of dialogue, I guess if he'd used quotation marks some of his pages might have looked like a sand storm. Not recommended.
     
  16. Peter Werme
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    Peter Werme Member

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    In Sweden, we also the American approach.
     

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