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quotation marks

Media release quotation marks part ii

Last week I wrote about a media release not using quotation marks correctly. Unfortunately, I have just read another release from the same PR company (written for one of their clients) and they have actually misused quotation marks again – breaking different rules!

Samples of the release (identifying features adjusted for the sake of their client):

“We’re fine tuning the offer for them.” XYZ managing director Fred Nerk said.

“There’s lots of ducks that need to be lined up in terms of how the groups support the plans”.

“Now they’ve thought ‘hang on, we need to provide for this”.

The rules they don’t know are therefore…

  1. while what the person is saying may be at an end, a full stop is not used at the end of speech if it is followed by details for the speaker. Apart from anything else, they have created XYZ managing director Fred Nerk said.as a stand alone sentence which is incomplete. A correct example is ‘I am working on it now,’said Mary.
  2. punctuation goes inside the quotation marks, except if the punctuation is part of the surrounding sentence rather than part of the quoted material
  3. if a speech includes a quote, two full sets of quotation marks are required, and generally the second set will be different to the first (i.e. if one quotation mark is used, the inner set will have double quotation marks). So a correct example is “I spoke to the officer in charge who said ‘this is a major catastrophe,'” said the reporter

If we add in the incorrect spelling of the client name (yes, really!), typos and words like ‘throught’, this media release is a very poor return for the client’s money. To me it shows an absolute lack of respect to their client and is unprofessional.

Media outlets will often use a media release as the basis of any reports and they obviously don’t expect to have to spend time correcting silly errors like this. If they have two equally promising stories to run, the better presented media release is likely to win so I would be very cross if a PR company sent out a release about me in that state.

Would you expect a PR company to get the writing elements right, or would you be comfortable checking it for errors yourself?

Quotation marks for speech

Do you remember learning about talking marks at school? I remember thinking of them as commas up in the sky:)

Over time, I learnt they are called quotation marks and that there are a few simple rules associated with their use. One of the rules about quotation marks is that you don’t close them until the person finishes speaking.

It isn’t often I come across examples of this in business writing – it’s generally more relevant for fiction or story writing. However, I did come across a media release recently which completely ignored this rule (and a few others but that’s a different story altogether!)

How do we use this rule? I’m glad you asked!

John said ‘It is hot today.’

John has finished speaking so we close off the quotation marks – easy.

John said ‘It is hot today and I would like to go the pool for a swim. The pool is just around the corner.

‘I wonder if Mary and Susan would like to come too? I will call them before I leave.’

In this example, John’s speech is divided into two paragraphs but he hadn’t finished speaking so I didn’t close the quotation marks. For clarity, however, I opened them again to show he is still talking (and I hadn’t just forgotten to close them!)

However, if John’s talking was interupted  by text, we would close the quotation marks:

 ‘It is hot today and I would like to go the pool for a swim. The pool is just around the corner,’ said John.

‘I wonder if Mary and Susan would like to come too? I will call them before I leave.’

Quotation marks

Have you ever noticed how many unnecessary quotation marks are used?

I once wrote the following as a guest blogger:

Quotation marks seem to be fashionable at the moment, which is a shame as they are being used so badly! “Recommended by doctors and mothers” makes me feel like they are telling me a lie – if it is a genuine statement, why does it need to be in quotation marks?

Quotation marks are correctly used to: 

– indicate you are quoting someone

– indicate speech (e.g. He said “How are you?”)

 – present a title of something

– show the text lacks credibility or truth, or at least is not verifiable (e.g. The media release stated the product was “superior”)

If you are tempted to use quotation marks for emphasis, try bold, italics, underline, colour, indenting or size of font instead – it will stand out more and not send any incorrect messages!

So I was rather amused when I came across a blog dedicated to silly use of quotation marks. I hope you enjoy seeing these grammatical blunders, as well as getting tips for your own writing!