Assume there is original source text:

This restaurant is amazing with "delicious lasagna" and great service. Make sure you go 6-7pm for the quietest times.

I want to quote "delicious lasagna" but not sure how to handle the outer double quotes. If I was quoting more than just that quotation (e.g. is amazing with "delicious lasagna" and great service) I'd just do:

"...is amazing with 'delicious lasagna' and great service."

However, when quoting just that quotation, it looks like:

"'delicious lasagna'"

Is this the correct way or is there something better?

  • You could say: "delicious lasagne" [quotes in original].
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 9:21
  • I prepared an answer but it really depends on what you are writing, and where your "original source text" got its quotation from (assuming it is a quotation from a prior source). Could you provide some more detail?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 9:49
  • possible duplicate of How are embedded quotations used? Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 10:26
  • @AndrewLeach The source I'm quoting are quoting customer surveys.
    – TMC
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 6:01

1 Answer 1


The following piece of the CMoS explains rather well how to use quotes within quotes and reading what the manual says I conclude that, generally speaking, your assumption is correct; so you might write:

" 'delicious lasagna' " [note blank space separating single quotation mark from double quotation marks]

However, as others said, it depends on what you are writing.

13.28 Quotations and “quotes within quotes”¹

Quoted words, phrases, and sentences run into the text are enclosed in double quotation marks. Single quotation marks enclose quotations within quotations; double marks, quotations within these; and so on. (The practice in the United Kingdom and elsewhere is often the reverse: single marks are used first, then double, and so on.) When the material quoted consists entirely of a quotation within a quotation, only one set of quotation marks need be employed (usually double quotation marks). For permissible changes from single to double quotation marks and vice versa, see 13.7 (item 1); see also 13.61. For dialogue, see 13.37. For technical uses of single quotation marks, see 7.50, 8.129.

“Don’t be absurd!” said Henry. “To say that ‘I mean what I say’ is the same as ‘I say what I mean’ is to be as confused as Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. You remember what the Hatter said to her: ‘Not the same thing a bit! Why you might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see”!’ ”

Note carefully not only the placement of the single and double closing quotation marks but also that of the exclamation points in relation to those marks in the example above. Question marks and exclamation points are placed just within the set of quotation marks ending the element to which such terminal punctuation belongs. For the placement of other punctuation—commas, periods, question marks, and so on—in relation to closing quotation marks, see 6.9–11.

¹ Chicago Manual of Style. (http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/16/ch13/ch13_sec028.html) [You can register yourself for a thirty-day free trial here ]

  • I like the idea of the single blank space.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 10:28
  • The single space character is only if you do not have access to proper typesetting.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 10:58
  • 1
    Even if you do have proper typesetting with curly quotes, some sort of space is necessary (a thin space, probably, or Unicode's "Narrow no-break space").
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 12:24
  • @AndrewLeach Technically, that depends on your font’s kerning tables. A well-groomed font accounts for such things, rendering extra spaces unnecessary and indeed unsightly. But yes, I usually use U+2009 THIN SPACE — or, as you mention, even better U+202F NARROW NO-BREAK SPACE for that sort of thing when needed. It’s better to edit the kerning pairs, though.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 13:15
  • When the words quoted are only two words long, the solution offered by the accepted answer is plainly unsatisfactory especially for users who lack the tools and skill to subtly separate the double quotes from the single quotes. Furthermore, without saying who is being quoted (the author who uses double quotes to emphasise the deliciousness of the lasagna; a compliment often seen in customers' reviews; a quote by a well-known food writer/editor… etc.) you might as well leave off the quotation marks altogether. If the source is mentioned there's no need to add the additional quote marks.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 16 at 11:02

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