Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. Hello. In a book for publication in the US, we are citing a British-published book with single quotes in the title: Julie Hankey, A Passion for Egypt: Arthur Weigall, Tutankhamun and the ‘Curse of the Pharaohs.’ Do we change them to double quotes, per US usage? My instinct is to leave it alone, but I want to follow CMOS guidance.

A. CMOS considers the form of quotation marks, whether double or single, to be an arbitrary decision that’s subject to being adjusted to conform to the style in the surrounding text. We’d accordingly change the quotation marks in the Hankey title from single to double to match the usage in a document that follows Chicago (or US) style.

We’d similarly adjust quotation marks in a direct quotation—for example, from single to double in a block quotation of a passage that includes single quotation marks or from double to single in a passage that includes double quotation marks that are themselves quoted with the use of double marks. Such adjustments are at the top of the list of permissible changes at CMOS 13.7. Much of that list would apply to titles of works (but see CMOS 14.88).

We’ll try to clarify this in a future edition of CMOS.