In a similar vein to my previous question on styling written quotes, should I use quotation marks for interior monologue in narrative writing?

It is common to use italics to denote thoughts:

This won't be easy, she thought.

But I would use quotation marks in this scenario:

"This won't be easy," she said to herself.

2 Answers 2


"This won't be easy," she said to herself.

This doesn't read as internal monologue to me at all; it reads as someone speaking aloud, but "to herself", i.e. in an undertone, maybe muttering, not apparently directed at anybody else.

If it's meant to be truly internal, I'd stick with the italics.

  • 1
    +1, except that I wouldn't even use italics. Standard English orthography doesn't require any marking for thoughts, and so much italic text looks messy.
    – user1579
    Mar 17, 2011 at 16:02

I would say you can keep or omit the quotes for either. To me, quotes implies that you are re-telling word-for-word what was said, but leaving the quotes out implies that it doesn't really matter what the exact words were. This is why thoughts aren't usually in quotes, because many thoughts aren't formed in precise words.

If in doubt, go with the rule that if it's actually spoken, use quotes, otherwise don't.

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