From Chapter 9, 'Quotations and Quotation Marks'

9.3   Short Quotations

Short quotations should be enclosed in single quotation marks and run on with the main text. If a verse quotation includes a line division, this should be marked with a spaced upright stroke ( | ).

Balzac’s famous observation, ‘Je suis en train de devenir un génie’, has generated much sceptical comment.

‘I had seen birth and death | But had thought they were different’, muses Eliot’s Wise Man.

For a quotation within a quotation, double quotation marks should be used:

Mrs Grose replies that ‘Master Miles only said “We must do nothing but what she likes!”’.

If a short quotation is used at the end of a sentence, the final full stop should be outside the closing quotation mark:

Do not be afraid of what Stevenson calls ‘a little judicious levity’.

This rule applies even when a quotation ends with a full stop in the original, and when a quotation forms a complete sentence in the original but, as quoted, is integrated within a sentence of introduction or comment without intervening punctuation:

We learn at once that ‘Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress’.

For quotations which are either interrogatory or exclamatory, punctuation marks should appear both before and after the closing quotation mark:

The pause is followed by Richard’s demanding ‘will no man say “Amen”?’.

Why does Shakespeare give Malcolm the banal question ‘Oh, by whom?’?

The final full stop should precede the closing quotation mark only when the quotation forms a complete sentence and is separated from the preceding passage by a punctuation mark. Such a quotation may be interrupted:

Wilde said, ‘He found in stones the sermons he had already hidden there.’

Soames added: ‘Well, I hope you both enjoy yourselves.’

Hardy’s Satires of Circumstance was not well received. ‘The gloom’, wrote Lytton Strachey in his review of it, ‘is not even relieved by a little elegance of diction.’

In this last example, the comma after ‘gloom’ follows the quotation mark as there is no comma in the original. Contrast:

‘It is a far, far better thing that I do,’ Carton asserts, ‘than I have ever done.’

Here the original has a comma after ‘I do’. But when the quotation ends in a question mark or an exclamation mark, it is not followed by a comma:

‘What think you of books?’ said he.

When a short quotation is followed by a reference in parentheses, the final punctuation should follow the closing parenthesis:

He assumes the effect to be ‘quite deliberate’ (p. 29).

There is no reason to doubt the effect of this ‘secret humiliation’ (Book 6, Chapter 52).

Contents • Back to 9.2  In Languages other than English • Forward to 9.4  Long Quotations  • Index