Do You Use Quotation Marks Around Nicknames? (Examples)

Many times in the English language you will find that people use quotation marks when typing a person’s particular nickname. But does this mean that you should always use quotation marks when referring to a person’s nickname? Or is that not always the case? This article will answer that question.

Do You Use Quotation Marks Around Nicknames?

It depends. If you are writing the person’s full name, and including the nickname next to the person’s regular name (either at the start, middle, or end of it), then you should use quotation marks. If you’re only writing the nickname, then you shouldn’t use the quotation marks.

quotation marks nicknames

This is because we use the quotation marks as a way to notify the reader that the nickname is, in fact, a nickname, and not a regular part of the person’s name.

By using quotation marks around the nickname when writing the person’s full name, you’re establishing a clear distinction between the “extra” nickname and the normal name. This makes for a text with more clarity.

The Oxford Guide to Style argues that while there are no hard rules for when to use quotation marks with regards to nicknames, the tendency is to use them when writing the full name.

At the same time, The Associated Press Stylebook also states that you should explicitly use the quotation marks when a nickname is inserted into the regular name that a person has.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that general style guides agree on the distinction between using only a nickname versus using the nickname as part of the person’s full name.

Do You Put Nicknames in Single or Double Quotes?

As with many things related to nicknames, there are no hard rules. However, we would suggest using double quotes, as single quotes are often used to cite phrases from essays and other texts, and this is a good way to differentiate both uses by using different types of quotes.

Ultimately, this does come down to personal preference, as you will find plenty of examples of people writing nicknames with either single or double quotes. That being said, we definitely recommend using double quotes.

In this article we endorse using double quotes, as they are a good way to distinguish the nicknames that you have written from the general single quotes that are used when citing papers.

Here are a few examples of both types of usage, so you can get a feel for which one you prefer:

  1. Mark “The Stump” Ronson.
  2. Michael ‘The Human Torch’ Pérez
  3. Jimmy “The Man With Gills” Simmons
  4. Jason ‘The Hooded Firefighter’ Wayne
  5. Jane “Fighting Sheriff” Denis
  6. Joanne “The Singing Menace” Nicholson
  7. Benedict “Vacuum Cleaner” Reese
  8. Esther “The Computer Whiz” Brand

Do You Put Nicknames in Quotes or Parentheses?

You should put nicknames in quotes and not parenthesis. When you put the nicknames in quotes, you’re letting the audience know that the part that is in quotes is not a regular part of the person’s name, and is instead a nickname. Parentheses are incorrect.

When you use parentheses, you confuse your readers, because the use of parentheses puts your readers in a different headspace than if you were simply using quotes.

When readers see your parentheses, they will think of the nickname inside the parentheses as a separate idea, or a clarificatory statement. Of course, nicknames are neither of these things.

A nickname is an extension of the name that is extraneous, but merits representation anyway. Using parentheses is not standard, and will probably confuse your readership.

Here are some examples that showcase the correct and incorrect way to display nicknames in your writing:

  1. Correct: Christina “The Powerful Plumber” Williamson
  2. Incorrect: Joshua (The Writing Warrior) Hickman
  3. Correct: Jonathan “The Charting Chariot” Duggan
  4. Incorrect: Gerry (The Marauding Martyr) Thompson
  5. Correct: Kelly “The Swimming Sailor” Williams
  6. Incorrect: Leah (The Investigating Reporter) Ewing
  7. Correct: Al “The Backpacking Brother” Spencer
  8. Incorrect: Nick (The Ant Exterminator) Applegate

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, nicknames are something that should only go in quotation marks when you are writing someone’s full name. If you’re only writing the person’s nickname and nothing else, you do not need to use quotation marks, as you don’t need to distinguish the nickname from the normal name.

You may also like:
Do You Use Quotation Marks for Thoughts? (Helpful Examples)
Do I Need Quotation Marks When I Quote Myself?