Quotations and Dialogue

Q. Can you distinguish when a single quotation mark is used versus a double quotation mark? I’m not referring to quotes within quotes, but about the use of single quotation marks closer to linguistic uses. I see both single and double quotation marks in instances seemingly for special meaning but not limited to linguistics. (That also seemingly will drive whether a comma is placed inside or outside the closing single quotation mark.)

Q. When quoting statutory material, is it appropriate to substitute ellipses points in for semicolons that end the “line” of a statutory clause? For instance, suppose a statutory clause reads “(i) Procedures involving animals will avoid or minimize discomfort, distress, and pain to the animals;”, and this is the end of the line (that is, the next line starts with “(ii)”). In this situation, if one quotes the line itself, should one end it with a period, ellipses points, or maybe even a bracketed period?

Q. The following is a two-part quotation mark question: Is a quotation nested within a separate quotation of double quotes recognized by an additional set of double quotes? Or is the quotation in question enclosed by single quotes? If my question hasn’t confused you, perhaps my example will. The court transcript detailed Jack’s recollection of that fateful day. Jack took the stand and began his testimony. “Your honor, I distinctly remember Jill saying to me, “Jack, I will never climb that hill. Furthermore, what good is a pail of water?”” Please advise.

Q. In paragraph 13.7, in the section on permissible changes to quotations, CMOS says, “Obvious typographic errors may be corrected silently (without comment or sic) unless the passage quoted is from an older work or a manuscript source where idiosyncrasies of spelling are generally preserved.” Earlier in the passage, CMOS states that direct quotes must reproduce exactly not only the wording but the spelling, capitalization, and internal punctuation of the original. It does not mention italicizing. When I’ve edited quotes or extracts from older texts, I’ve, as a rule, reproduced pretty much “everything” as it is in the older text. I am editing a book now with numerous quotes from seventeenth-century books or letters, referencing ships. Before launching forth, thought I would double check. Seems ship names were not italicized back then. My thought is to leave as they are in the original—as roman. That is, do not italicize ship names in the quotes or extracts. Would this be correct?

Q. Apparently Americans enclose periods commas inside quotation marks, but do the British do it that way too???

Q. I am currently editing a lengthy manuscript made up almost entirely of quotations made by a dead person to a living person. The living person is what is known as a “channeler.” Since the living person is quoting what the dead person tells her, how do I handle the quotes? The dead person is of such stature that giving the quotes to the living person does not seem right. Any help you can give me is much appreciated.

Q. I am working on a book about writing. May I quote briefly from the published work of other writers, with full attribution? By “briefly,” I mean no more than two sentences. Thank you.

Q. In quoting historical letters or correspondence, what is the current accepted practice as far as leaving mistakes or clarifying mistakes for modern readers? Is it dependent on the work?

Q. Dear CMOS, I’m proofreading a reissue of a children’s mystery novel. The following appears in the original edition: “I said don’t move.” Is this styled and punctuated correctly? I feel I should recast it to “I said, ‘Don’t move.’ ” But something about the brevity of the command “don’t move” makes me waver and want to leave it as is (or find another punctuation style), treating the line as one might treat “I said no.” I can’t seem to wrap my head around this. Help! Many thanks.

Q. We do a lot of excerpts from articles and books at my job. But folks here are unhappy because they cannot distinguish between ellipses that existed in the originals and ones that we have inserted to indicate missing material. I can find no mention of how to deal with this quandary in The Chicago Manual of Style. Please help—many reprints lie ahead!