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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Criminal Sentence 83: Overused Quotation Marks

From an article about solar water heaters:

Incentive amounts vary, with a "typical" incentive being about $2,000.

For some reason, this writer wanted to highlight the word "typical," so he put it in quotation marks. However, when you want to highlight something, you're supposed to use italics or perhaps underlining. This sentence would be better with no quotation marks. In this case, I don't see the need for italics or underlining. This just seems like a normal sentence.

You use quotation marks to quote what someone says, or to indicate you're taking liberties with your description. For example, if you say, He was "a woman," then he really isn't a woman, but perhaps he is dressed up that way or affecting a high voice.

Many times I see the word free in quotation marks, as in Your next meal is "free." This actually means not free.

So, if you want to highlight something, don't use quotation marks. Use italics or underlining, or perhaps reword the sentence.


Doug and Amanda said...

Everyone should have to read your blog. It's great!

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Thanks! I appreciate that.
I guess, then, tell all your friends!