Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reply From Tim North

Question: In Australia, do we use double quotation marks or single when writing dialogue? According to the Australian Style Manual, we're supposed to use single quotes, ...

Answer: Indeed. The Style Manual (6th edn, p. 112) says:

The question of whether to use single or double quote marks
is often debated. In Australia and the United Kingdom both
types are widely used; in North America double quotes are the

Single quotes are recommended for Australian Government
publications -- in keeping with the trend towards minimal
punctuation. Double quotation marks are then used for quotes
within quotes.

Question (continued): and yet in fiction published in Australia and in America, I see double quotes all the time.

Answer: Double quotes are the norm for American documents, so that explains those sightings.

Double quotes in Australian fiction is also easily explained by the first paragraph. (Both types of quotes are in common use.)

To answer your original question about dialogue, you should use single quotes if it happens to be in the context of a Government document. For anything else (fiction, for example), you can use either.

Just make a choice and be consistent.

Hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Tim North (Perth, Western Australia)

Thanks Tim - if you have questions you'd like looked into, make sure you visit Tim's website Better Writing Skills. Subscribe to the newsletter - it's worth it.

In other news - this question is actually going to make it into the next newsletter Tim sends out.

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