He staggered in, late as usual, his hair this way and his collar the other. His socks were as mismatched as were his principles. I thought to myself, here comes yet another disastrous sales meeting.

It seems to me too much to write :

I thought to myself 'Here comes yet another disastrous sales meeting'.

The Authorised Version deliberately did away with punctuated speech, retaining only the capital to indicate the beginning of a quote but leaving out quotation marks.

Can I therefore do the same in common writing, for my thoughts ?

I thought to myself, Here comes yet another disastrous sales meeting.

I cannot find another question on EL&U which covers this.

  • It’s a matter of style. Different publishers use different conventions.
    – Livrecache
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 5:42
  • Do you add quotes around your thoughts? Only you (at most) would know. Do you? (I wonder how you do that...)
    – Drew
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


The Handbook of Good English (slightly reformatted below) suggests the following:

           Direct quotations of thoughts

Thoughts can be treated like other quotations and enclosed in quotation marks. They can also be italicized, without quotation marks. Both of these conventions are common. It is more common to dispense with both quotation marks and italics:

  • Johnson thought, Now why did I say that?
  • Now why did I say that? he brooded.

You can find plenty of examples of each in books:

Whatever you do, the important thing is to be consistent.

  • I wish I could persuade writers to use .oO( thought balloons ) for this! Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 4:59
  • 1
    @Will Crawford Suitable only for lofty aspirations. Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 12:36

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