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Question marks

When quotation marks are being used, placement of a question mark depends on the sentence’s meaning—does the question mark apply to the part quoted or to the whole sentence? If a question mark is part of a title, it goes inside quotation marks.

The talk was entitled “Whither Russia?”
Why did you shout “Fire!”?

Quote, quotation

While we recognize that, officially, "quote" is a verb and not a noun, we do use the verb as a noun sometimes. To wit, "Let's run that quote from the health commissioner in the next issue of the magazine." We know that we should say, "Let's run that quotation," but we cut ourselves some slack.

Quotation marks

Quotation marks versus italics
Use quotation marks when quoting someone, or for titles of articles, poems, book chapters, short stories, songs, lectures, and TV and radio programs. Italicize titles of books, newspapers, magazines, scientific journals, TV series, record albums, movies, plays, works of art, very long poems, operas and other long musical works, ships, aircraft, spacecraft, satellites.

Commas and periods are kept within end quotation marks; semicolons and colons are placed outside. Question marks and exclamation marks may go inside or outside, depending on use.

He yelled, “fire!”
Why did you say, “nuts”?

For irony
Use quotation marks for irony.

The “improvements” you made to his speech made him see red.

Incorrect uses
Do not use quotation marks for emphasis or to set off informal expressions that the reader will already know. Either use such expressions without quotes, or find a synonym.

The get-together should be fun.
NOT: The “get-together” should be “awesome.”

Smart quotes
In most cases, use curly quotation marks (“ ”) (also known as smart quotes) in your publications. Straight hash marks (') and ("), called prime and double prime, are used to denote inches and feet.

The book was 11" x 13". (Note that all punctuation goes outside prime symbols.)

NOTE: Some web pages use hash marks instead of smart quotes.

Block quotations
Quoted material that runs four lines or longer is usually set as an indented extract (block quotation), and is not set off by quotation marks.


Preferred spelling (AP Style). We only use the spellings Koran or Qu'ran or other versions when specifically requested by an organization.

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