My question is regarding the correct use of quotation marks in this sentence:

The rules of 'asking a question' and 'talking' have been mixed up. Arrange them in the correct order again.

Should there be quotation marks around the above words. 'Asking a question' and 'talking' are titles in the instructions book of a boardgame.

Also, any advice on how to know when to use the quotation marks when it's not speech.

2 Answers 2


Assuming that the section on 'Asking a question' is about asking a question and that the section on 'Talking' is about talking, you have a couple of options.

Option 1. Treat the section titles as titles. In this case, it appears that the section titles are run in sentence case (rather than in title case with initial caps for most words). In that situation, if you want to cite the section titles as titles, you'll need to use quotation marks since (for example) the word question isn't capped, and readers won't know where the title ends unless you demarcate it with a close quotation mark. Following this approach, you might end up with an instruction that reads something like this:

The rules listed in the 'Asking a question' and 'Talking' sections have been mixed up. Rearrange them in the correct order.

Option 2. Treat the section titles as descriptive phrases. In this case, you don't need the quotation marks (because rather than citing the section titles as such, you're describing the contents of their sections), but you do need to make clear where one descriptive phrase ends and another begins. So you might use a wording along these lines:

The rules listed in the sections on asking a question and on talking have been mixed up. Rearrange them in the correct order.

Generally the point of using quotation marks is to indicate that the word or phrase within quotation marks exactly matches the word or phrase elsewhere that the language is referring to. Even in that case you wouldn't necessarily want to use quotation marks if the extent of the word or phrase you are citing is clear without them. For example, if the section titles used title case, you could frame your instruction along these lines:

The rules listed in the Asking a Question section and in the Talking section have been mixed up. Rearrange them in the correct order.

In this last example, you are free to enclose the section titles in quotation marks or to omit the quotation marks, as you choose—or as your house style guide dictates.


No quotes, as it might seem ironical/sarcastic, except if you assume the reader isn't paying attention :-[, or if "asking the question" and "talking" have special meanings for this author, and you want to draw attention to them.

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