Everything you need to know about the quotation mark

This form of punctuation is sometimes misunderstood and often overused. Stop abusing it; start using it correctly.

Quotation mark abuse is so rampant, it begat a website, The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks, documenting their often confusing, but always funny, misuses.

For instance, a sign introducing Franco’s “Special” Fried Chicken was showcased on the site. The blog humorously noted that the quotation marks suggest it’s either not chicken or else coated in marijuana.

Blog author Bethany Keeley told me that academics most often abuse the quotation mark. She greatly underestimates corporate writing. Whether it’s an article in a corporate publication or CEO’s letter, quotation marks are sometimes misunderstood and often overused.

Here’s how you can curb the misuse.

A primer

Quotation marks denote direct speech or an excerpt from someone’s prose, but it wasn’t always this way.

During the Renaissance, English writers used italics instead of quotation marks. Between the Renaissance and 18th century, authors subjectively wrapped pithy remarks in quotation marks. Writers finally adopted quotation marks to denote direct speech in the early 18th century.

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