[LMB] OT: smart apostrophes in Word

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Sat Sep 29 18:05:45 BST 2007

Little Egret said...
> Current house style in British publishers is mostly that speech or other
> quotations are enclosed in single quotes, ie apostrophes. In the US double
> quotes would be used and in both the other quotation mark is used if any
> interior quotes are required.
> Thus (GB) The man said 'I will write to "The Times" tonight'
> and (US) The man said "I will write to 'The Times' tonight"
> As a reader I did not notice this until I saw it mentioned on a writer's
> discussion news group, indeed the current usage is not invariant and has, 
> I
> think, only become  established in the last few decades. Perhaps listees
> will look at some old and oldish books from different publishers? None of
> my GB published Bujolds use the single quote style and I was easily able 
> to
> find both styles in use in pre-1939 GB books.

I just hoiked down a few books from my shelves.

Turn-of-the-century The Religious Tract Society and A&C Black use single 
quotes for speech.  Pre-war Harvill Press and Harrap use double quotes. 
1960s Seagull and Children's Press use double quotes.  1970s Puffin uses 
single quotes.  1970s Armada uses double quotes.  Modern Collins and Harper 
Collins use double quotes.  Modern Red Fox uses single quotes.

Judging from that sample, there doesn't actually seem to be much of a 
consensus in British book publishing as to which way to do it, though double 
quotes seem to be slightly in the majority.

I always use double quotes for speech, but I can't remember if that's 
because I taught myself a lot of what I know about punctuation by looking at 
my books to see how it was done (in which case, I must have been looking at 
the Armada books!), or because I was actually taught to do so in school 
(1970s and 1980s in Ireland, FWIW).

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at eircom.net

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
- Napoleon Bonaparte 

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list