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Quotations within Quotations

Quotations within Quotations

Author: Sydney Bauer

This lesson introduces the punctuation rules for including a quotation within a quotation.

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Quotes within Quotes


Single quotation marks are used to enclose quoted material that appears inside other quoted material.


  • Brooks made an important point when he stated that “Andromeda comes from the Greek words Andros to think of a man and Medomai to be mindful. Perhaps this recreation of the myth of Andromeda is a warning to be mindful of men who reach beyond the gods and science, pulling the means of creation and destruction into their own hands.”


The rules for using punctuation marks with single quotation marks are the same as the rules for using punctuation with double quotation marks.


Periods and Commas appear inside single quotation marks:

  • Guttman explains that “most people have an optimistic view of evolution and see it as a story of success; however, this is unrealistic. As Robertson describes it, evolution is not a story of success, ‘but one of extinction.’ Ninety-nine per cent of all species that ever lived have become extinct” (482).
  • “She said, ‘I never cared for stroganoff,’ and slammed the door!” Rachel whispered to Beth in the hallway. 


Colons and Semicolons appear outside closing quotation marks:

  • Jacobs maintains that “according to Buchannan 'every organism has the potential to produce more offspring than can survive'; there is always variation among individuals in a population and much of the variation is inherited."


Exclamation points and question marks appear inside quotation marks when they apply to the quoted material, but appear outside when they apply to the whole sentence:

  • She told reporters on the front steps, “No one stops to ask me, ‘How was your day dear?’ So I refuse to answer any of your questions.”
  • “Did the person to your left respond with the phrase ‘I prefer not to’?” the prosecutor asked.




Because the titles of short works are enclosed with quotation marks when written, they are enclosed with single quotation marks when they appear within quoted material:


  • Amis admits that he “wrote ‘The Little Puppy That Could’ between 1985 and 1987; meanwhile, Reagan appointed career enemies of arms control to the key positions in arms control, denounced the USSR as an ‘evil empire,’ and entrained the biggest military build-up, or spend-up, in world history” (267).


Notice how “evil empire” appears with single quotation marks as well. The original source undoubtedly put double quotation marks around the phrase, but because the information is now being used as a quote in another piece of writing, the phrase appears inside single quotation marks. 

Quotations Inside Quotations