Quotation marks indicate dialogue, someone else’s words, specific words, exaggeration, and certain titles.

In most English fiction, quotation marks surround dialogue, though some choose alternate signifiers, such as James Joyce’s preference for em dashes. In non-fiction, quotation marks serve primarily to cite others’ words.

A writer can opt for quotation marks rather than italics when indicating that a word should not be read in context of the sentence. While on this website I prefer italics for this purpose, as it requires fewer typographical marks, quotation marks are perfectly acceptable to denote a word as separate from the sentence: the word “octopus” comes from Greek, not Latin.

While quotation marks can overexpose a quality, don’t use them to indicate emphasis. The “intelligent” professor is likely not as knowledgable as he may like to think, and the “humble” musician talks far too much about her qualifications. A word’s connotation from quotation marks does not match the connotation from italics.

Place the following titles in quotes:
-Short stories, Chapters, Articles, Essays, Most poems
-TV and Radio episodes
-Songs, Movements from larger works

When it comes to proper formatting, always prefer the directional, curly, or “smart” quotation marks. These are the curved quotations your computer and word-processor automatically curl to the correct left or right direction. Straight quotation marks belong to the years of typewriters. According to modern typographic practice, anyone who wishes to be typographically respected knows to use directional quotation marks (the same holds true for curled apostrophes).