I am using the sentence below to describe what is written on the image of the button below.

A button labeled "Staff Portal"

The log-in page may also be located by going to the homepage at www.website.ca and clicking the red button located at the bottom left, labeled “Staff Portal”.

Is this ideal to put quotation marks around what is labeled on the button?


In this case, you’re perfectly fine using quotation marks, because what you’re essentially doing is quoting the text on the button.

In essence, there is little structural difference between the following three statements:

He said, “Don’t walk”.
The stop light says, “Don’t walk”.
The button is labelled “Don’t walk”.

The only minute difference is that in the third one, you are quoting text, rather than direct speech, so there should not be a comma before the quote (although I would guess, without knowing for sure, that at least some style guides would be fine with having one).

Since you are quoting a label, which is akin to a title, and using it not so much as quoted text as a ‘label-as-label’, however, you would be perfectly safe if you italicised it, too:

Click the red button located at the bottom left, labelled Staff Portal.

Which option you choose is a matter of preference; both are quite logical and if there is any advice in any style guides to avoid either, I am not aware of it.

  • It would seem arbitrary to insist on a comma before reported speech but not before other quotes. One modern trend is to use colon, comma or zero punctuation as is considered most appropriate for the individual situation. – Edwin Ashworth May 26 '14 at 23:13
  • @GetzelR Was there supposed to be a link in your comment? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 16 '16 at 21:40
  • I deleted the comment, since it was about italics or quotation marks around labels or titles, which I was looking into for a different question. After commenting I realized the issues may not be as related as I initially thought and took down the comment, not having time to properly parse and compare, but since you asked, the link was arrantpedantry.com/2015/11/30/how-to-use-quotation-marks – GetzelR Mar 16 '16 at 21:43

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