Quotation Marks - Punctuation

AMA Manual of Style - Stacy L. Christiansen, Cheryl Iverson 2020

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are used to indicate material that is taken verbatim from another source.

8.6.1 Quotations.

Use quotation marks to enclose a direct quotation of limited length that is run into the text (see 8.6.14, Block Quotations).

“The excitement of the brisk pace and glamorous environs that can characterize life in the big city seemingly could not compare with the simple glories of scenic northern New Mexico for Kenneth M. Adams, profiled in The Art of JAMA.”

When the quotation marks enclose conversational dialogue, there is no limit to the length that may be set in run-in format.

In all quoted material, follow the wording, spelling, and punctuation of the original exactly. This rule does not apply when the quoted material, although part of a complete sentence in its original source, is now used as the start of a complete sentence. In this case, the lowercase letter in the quoted sentence would be replaced by a capital letter in brackets.

“[L]ife in the big city seemingly could not compare with the simple glories of scenic northern New Mexico for Kenneth M. Adams, profiled in The Art of JAMA.”

Similarly, in legal material any change in initial capital letters from quoted material should be indicated by placing the change in brackets (see, Brackets, Insertions in Quotations).

To indicate an omission in quoted material, use ellipses (see 8.8, Punctuation, Ellipses).

To indicate editorial interpolation in quoted material, use brackets (see, Brackets, Insertions in Quotations). Use [sic] after a misspelled word or an incorrect or apparently absurd statement in quoted material to indicate that this is an accurate rendition of the original source. However, when quoting material from another era that uses now obsolete spellings, use sic sparingly. Do not use sic with an exclamation point. (Note: The use of sic is not limited to quoted material; in other instances, it means that any unusual or bizarre appearance in the preceding word is intentional, not unintentional.) (See, Brackets, Insertions in Quotations.)

The author should always verify the quotation from the original source.

8.6.2 Dialogue.

With conversational dialogue, enclose the opening word and the final word in quotation marks.

“Please don’t schedule the surgery for a Tuesday.”

“OK, if that’s inconvenient for you, I won’t.”

If a quotation is interrupted by attribution, punctuate as follows:

“If there is no alternative,” she said, “we can schedule the surgery for Tuesday.”

8.6.3 Titles.

Within titles (including titles of articles, references, and tables), centered heads, and run-in sideheads, use double quotation marks.

The “Sense” of Humor

8.6.4 Single Quotation Marks.

Use single quotation marks for quotations within quotations.

He looked at us and said, “As my patients always told me, ’Be a good listener.’ ”

8.6.5 Placement.

Place closing quotation marks outside commas and periods, inside colons and semicolons. Place question marks, dashes, and exclamation points inside quotation marks only when they are part of the quoted material. If they apply to the whole statement, place them outside the quotation marks.

Why bother to perform autopsies at all if the main finding is invariably “edema and congestion of the viscera”?

The clinician continues to ask, “Why did he die?”

“I’ll lend you my stethoscope for clinic”—then she remembered the last time she had lent it and said, “On second thought, I’ll be needing it myself.”

Commas are not always needed before or after quoted material. For instance, in the following example commas are not necessary after “said” or to set off the quoted material.

He said he had had his “fill of it all” and was “content” to leave the meeting.

8.6.6 Omission of Opening or Closing Quotation Marks.

The opening quotation mark should be omitted when an article beginning with a stand-up or drop cap (dropped initial capital letter) also begins with a quotation. It is best, however, to avoid this construction in text.

Doctors need some patients,” a sage had said.

When excerpting long passages that consist of several paragraphs, use opening double quotation marks before each paragraph and closing quotation marks only at the end of the final paragraph. However, if excerpted material runs several paragraphs, the material would be set as a block quotation (see 8.6.14, Block Quotations, and 8.8, Ellipses).

8.6.7 Coined Words, Slang, or Unfamiliar Terms.

Coined words, slang, unfamiliar terms, nicknames, and words or phrases used ironically or facetiously may be enclosed in quotation marks at first mention. Thereafter, omit quotation marks (see 21.9, Editing, Proofreading, Tagging, and Display).

Diagnoses based on traditional Chinese medicine, such as “yin deficiency,” may not jeopardize patients who have received a medical diagnosis before entering the study.

There was a giant congenital nevus in the “bathing trunk” distribution.

The second most common diagnosis before referral was “unknown.”

We further hope that, above all, those who have been fed only “docufiction” on this matter, as if it were truth, will cease to be misled.

Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics is not a synopsis of or a companion to the Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, although initially our associates dubbed it “Baby Nelson,” “Half Nelson,” and “Junior Nelson.”5

It has been said that shoes and latrines are the best “medicine” for ancylostomiasis (hookworm disease).

Do not use quotation marks when emphasizing a word, when using a non-English word, when mentioning a term as a term, or when defining a term. In these instances, italics are preferred (see 21.9, Editing, Proofreading, Tagging, and Display).

The page number is called the folio.

The eye associated with the greater reduction in hitting ability when dimmed by a filter was termed the dominant eye for motion stereopsis.

Pulsus paradoxus is defined as an exaggeration of the physiologic inspiratory decrease in systolic blood pressure.

The one and only Russian word we knew was baleet (“pain”).

8.6.8 Apologetic Quotation Marks.

Quotation marks are sometimes used around words for special effect or to indicate irony. In most instances, however, they are unnecessary and should be avoided in scientific writing.

Avoid: Funding for “big data” projects is increasing.

8.6.9 So-called.

A word or phrase following so-called should not be enclosed in quotation marks.

The so-called harm principle holds that competent adults should have freedom of action unless they pose a risk to themselves or to the community.

8.6.10 Common Words Used in a Technical Sense.

Enclose in quotation marks common words used in a special technical sense when the context does not make the meaning clear (see 8.6.11, Definition or Translation of Non—English- Language Words).

In many publications, “running feet” on left-hand pages face the “gutter” at the bottom of the page.

“Coma vigil” (akinetic mutism) may be confused with conscious states.

8.6.11 Definition or Translation of Non—English-Language Words.

The literal translation of a non—English-language word or phrase is usually enclosed in quotation marks if it follows the word or phrase, whereas the simple definition of the word or phrase is not (see 12.2, Accent Marks [Diacritics]).

Patients with hysteria may exhibit an attitude termed la belle indifférence (“beautiful indifference” or total unconcern) toward their condition.

8.6.12 Titles.

In the text, use quotation marks to enclose titles of short poems, essays, lectures, single episodes of a radio or television program, songs, the names of electronic files, parts of published works (eg, chapters, articles in a periodical), papers read at meetings, dissertations, and theses (see 10.5, Capitalization, Types and Sections of Articles, and 21.9.4, Specific Uses of Fonts and Styles, Italics).

8.6.13 Indirect Discourse, Discussions.

After indirect discourse, do not use quotation marks.

The nurse said he would be discharged today.

You foolish woman, I berate myself, as I resist this type of thinking every day.

Do not use quotation marks with yes or no.

His answer to the question was no.

In interview or discussion formats when the name of the speaker is set off, do not use quotation marks.

Dr Black: Now let us review the slides of the bone marrow biopsy.

Dr Smith: The first slide reveals complete absence of granulocytic precursors.

8.6.14 Block Quotations.

Editorial judgment must be exercised to determine whether material quoted from texts or speeches is long enough to warrant setting it off in a block, ie, indented and without the quotation marks. Different modes of display (eg, print, online, optimized for mobile) should be considered when thinking about length. Paragraph indents are generally not used unless the quoted material is known to begin a paragraph. Space is often added both above and below quoted material that is indented. Block quotations are often preceded by a colon.

If a quotation appears within a block quote, use double quotation marks around the contained quotation, rather than setting it off in blocks, regardless of the length.

In Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves, she notes in the preface:

One supporter of Eats, Shoots & Leaves wrote a 1,400-word column in The Times of London explaining (with glorious self-importance) that while his admiration for my purpose was “total,” he disagreed with virtually everything I said.1(pxix)