When you’re working with only one set of quotation marks, using them is simple. In American English, just surround the sentence or words in double quote marks.
Hannibal said, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
Quotes within quotes
When you have a quote within a quote, begin and end the main quote with double quotation marks. Surround the quote within a quote with single quotation marks.
Ronald said, “I can’t believe Hannibal said, ‘I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.’”
Note that the period goes before all three final quotation marks and that there is no space between the single quote mark and the double quote marks.
Here’s how it would look if the main quote continues after the quote within a quote:
Ronald said, “I can’t believe Hannibal said, ‘I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.’ That really creeped me out.”
Works of art
If a quote has reference to a title of a work of art that requires quotation marks (and not italics), the title also uses single quotation marks. (For a refresher on which require quote marks and which require italics, click here.)
Hannibal said, “I heard Ronald’s favorite song is ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by the Rolling Stones.”