Have you tried quoting a quote and been left wondering whether triple quotation marks are needed? Luckily, the rules surrounding three quotation marks are standard.
This article will explain all you need to know about using triple quotation marks in a sentence.
Do You Use Triple Quotation Marks When Quoting a Quote?
You should not use triple quotation marks in a sentence. It is not correct punctuation to do this. Instead, you should focus on alternating quotation marks between single and double marks (i.e., I said, “I did not want to believe his ‘theory’ about this”).
So, the following sentence would be incorrect:
- Incorrect: We could not figure out why she said, “I will need more “‘love and happiness.’”
Here, triple quotation marks are used. However, this is not a grammatical construct.
Common English style guides such as MLA and APA Style agree on quotation mark rules. You should only ever alternate between single and double marks. You should never triple up.
In the rest of the sentence, we’ll show you how you can avoid using triple quotation marks in a sentence.
Alternatives to Triple Quotation Marks
Instead of using triple quotation marks, you can either use double and single quotation marks, use italics, or rephrase the sentence.
By using these alternatives, you’ll avoid confusion and get a much clearer structure in your writing.
Continue reading to see examples of how you should implement these alternatives.
1. Double and Single Quotation Marks
We suggest you use double and single quotation marks when quoting a quote.
So, what does this look like?
Firstly, we can show you the triple quotation marks:
- Incorrect: You said, “she was saying, “‘why’” more often than needed.”
However, you should simply alternate between double and single quote marks:
- Correct: You said, “she was saying, ‘why’ more often than needed.”
Another way to avoid triple quotation marks in a sentence is to use italics.
When quoting names or referring to proper nouns, you can either use double and single quotation marks:
- Correct: Why can’t she say, “I like ‘Star Wars’ more,” as I asked her to?
Alternatively, you can use italics to avoid quotation marks around names:
- Correct: Why can’t she say, “I like Star Wars more,” as I asked her to?
3. Rephrasing the Sentence
You never need to quote multiple quotes one after another. That is just poor planning. Instead, you should find a way to word it so that no quotation marks overlap.
- Incorrect: What about if he said, “I will do it if she says, “yes, to all accounts.’”
- Correct: What about if he said, “I will do it if she says, ‘yes, to all accounts’ only.”
The difference is subtle, and it’s entirely dependent on the context. Usually, adding another word or phrase after the end of the single quotation mark is a great way to remove the triple quotation mark.
You should never use a triple quotation mark.
Punctuating quotations only works by alternating double and single quotation marks. All English style guides agree to alternate between quotation types rather than tripling up.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.