Inverted commas


Inverted commas, quotation marks, quote marks, speech marks, sixty-six-ninety-nines. Whatever you want to call them, they are pairs (one opening, one closing) of double or single punctuation marks to indicate direct speech, quotations or phrases. Although the double quotation mark dates from the fifteenth century, usage specific to quoted material did not became common till 200 years later. Single quotation mark came into being around 1800 to indicate a second level of quotation. In current usage this order has been reversed. Single quotes are used first, and a quote within a quote takes on double quote marks. Like any letter form or punctuation mark, inverted commas vary in design from typeface to typeface, from the lush curves of Sahara Bodoni to the chunky blocks of Interstate and everything in between.