I am trying to conform to the British practice (specifically Oxford Style Guide) and I am a little confused which to use to mark a nickname:

Andrew 'Andy' Johnson

Andrew "Andy" Johnson

I know following the rules I should use single inverted commas, however the first one looks a tad weird to me. I have seen the latter option a lot on newspapers and business cards but not the former.

I am going to use that for email signatures and names on business cards.

2 Answers 2


In general, single quotation marks are only used to indicate a quote witihin a quote (at least in AmE).

In the case of a term that would call for quotation marks, such as a nickname, the single version would only be used if the nickname refernece was part of a quote. Also, in US practice, once a term is defined, such as a nickname, the quotes are usually omitted in subsequent references.


It is proper to use regular quotation marks as opposed to singles for nicknames. Most sources seem to suggest as much when discussing nicknames directly.

Regarding quotation marks in general, the single quotation mark is reserved primarily for the purpose of nested quotation, that is, quotation within quotation - apparently this is reversed for British English (thank you @choster)


Andrew 'Andy' Johnson

is more correct than

Andrew "Andy" Johnson

in formal setting for your purposes.

  • @choster Thank you for this clarification. I've edited my answer as to reflect this, would you please feel free to make any additional changes to the answer as you see fit?
    – miercoledi
    Apr 9, 2014 at 17:00
  • 1
    I'm a little confused by your answer. Your first paragraph says to use double-quotes; then you mention nested quotes; then you say that it is better to use single quotes in formal circumstances?
    – MrHen
    Apr 21, 2014 at 18:18
  • I too have the same doubt as @MrHen Jul 2, 2022 at 10:53

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