Browse Definitions :

The irony of using quotation marks for emphasis

Writing for Business

Which would you use to advertise a sale?
a. “Excellent” deals on new and used iPhones!
b. Excellent deals on new and used iPhones!
c. Excellent deals on new and used iPhones!



Answer: b. or c.

Explanation:
If you want to emphasize the word excellent, you want to do just about anything but put it in quotation marks. Really. The use of italics is standard but you can underline, bold, use a different color — do what it takes, if you feel a word needs a little extra oomph. Just don’t do what many small-business people do — put the words they want to shout in quotation marks.

It’s quite ironic: People often use quotation marks to add emphasis to certain words but they’re actually subverting their intended meaning. Quotation marks around words can instruct the reader to think the words mean something other than what they say. It’s like adding a wink to your statement, so people know you’re kidding. If your message is that your iPhone sale is excellent, you don’t want to write that it’s “excellent.”

Want more information? The Yahoo! Style Guide provides an excellent (no quotes!) entry about when to use — and when not to use — quotation marks.

Amused by grammar gaffes? The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks is always good for a giggle.

 Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

Dig Deeper on Writing for Business

Networking
  • firewall as a service (FWaaS)

    Firewall as a service (FWaaS), also known as a cloud firewall, is a service that provides cloud-based network traffic analysis ...

  • private 5G

    Private 5G is a wireless network technology that delivers 5G cellular connectivity for private network use cases.

  • NFVi (network functions virtualization infrastructure)

    NFVi (network functions virtualization infrastructure) encompasses all of the networking hardware and software needed to support ...

Security
  • cybersecurity

    Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting internet-connected systems such as hardware, software and data from cyberthreats.

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a symmetric block cipher chosen by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

  • operational risk

    Operational risk is the risk of losses caused by flawed or failed processes, policies, systems or events that disrupt business ...

CIO
  • Risk Management Framework (RMF)

    The Risk Management Framework (RMF) is a template and guideline used by companies to identify, eliminate and minimize risks.

  • robotic process automation (RPA)

    Robotic process automation (RPA) is a technology that mimics the way humans interact with software to perform high-volume, ...

  • spatial computing

    Spatial computing broadly characterizes the processes and tools used to capture, process and interact with three-dimensional (3D)...

HRSoftware
  • OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

    OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) encourage companies to set, communicate and monitor organizational goals and results in an ...

  • cognitive diversity

    Cognitive diversity is the inclusion of people who have different styles of problem-solving and can offer unique perspectives ...

  • reference checking software

    Reference checking software is programming that automates the process of contacting and questioning the references of job ...

Customer Experience
  • martech (marketing technology)

    Martech (marketing technology) refers to the integration of software tools, platforms, and applications designed to streamline ...

  • transactional marketing

    Transactional marketing is a business strategy that focuses on single, point-of-sale transactions.

  • customer profiling

    Customer profiling is the detailed and systematic process of constructing a clear portrait of a company's ideal customer by ...

Close