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?

  • If it's not scientific you might find answers in the WritersSE
    – Helmar
    Jul 23, 2016 at 18:04
  • @Helmar thank you--I didn't know WritersSE existed! I might try over there, then.
    – red_kite
    Jul 23, 2016 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


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/

  • 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, 2016 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, 2016 at 18:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.