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I'm trying my hand at editing a friends work. They've written the following:

'Thinks he's the smartest one in the room,' Henry wrote on a piece of paper.

(For context, they use double quotation marks when they write dialogue.)

My instinct is that the single quotation marks are incorrect. I could be wrong.

I can think of two alternatives:

  1. Double quotation marks:

    "Thinks he’s the smartest one in the room," Henry wrote on a piece of paper.

    I feel like the double quotation marks make it read too much like dialogue, however. Especially because there is a conversation happening around this line.

  2. Italics:

    Thinks he's the smartest one in the room, Henry wrote on a piece of paper.

    A reason I lean towards this option is because "thinks he's the smartest one in the room" is a thought that Henry is having. (If Henry was simply thinking the phrase then I would use italics.)

So, am I supposed use single quotes, double quotes, or italics in this situation? Or something else? Or is it just a matter of style?

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  • If it's not scientific you might find answers in the WritersSE – Helmar Jul 23 '16 at 18:04
  • @Helmar thank you--I didn't know WritersSE existed! I might try over there, then. – red_kite Jul 23 '16 at 18:19
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Marshal Plan has a great book named "The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing", Wherein he has recommended the use of ITALICS for the inner thoughts In inverted comas- referred to by you as double quotes. : http://www.dailywritingtips.com/dealing-with-a-characters-internal-thoughts/

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  • Thanks. Yes, I'm confident in using italics for inner thoughts. I didn't know whether this example fell under that umbrella, though, because in the sentence the phrase "thinks he's the smartest one in the room" is acting as a quote rather than a thought. So, are you saying that even though it's a quote, it's also still a thought and therefore the italics are used? – red_kite Jul 23 '16 at 18:17
  • Yes true, a thought is analogous to talking to one self as if in mirror like a soliloquy. See Shakespearean plays where such instances abound. – Abhilaaj Jul 23 '16 at 18:36

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