Quotations or italics?


I am the author of a book that includes affirmations. These are not quoted from another source. At the beginning of each chapter, I (1) initially state the affirmations, and (2) often insert the affirmations throughout the book for emphasis.


How are quotations handled in this instance? Should the period be placed inside the quote, or outside? Would italics be in order for either instance?


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asked Jun 20 '12 at 23:32 John Bryan New member

1 answer


Great question!


Your question really raises two separate issues. The most obvious – do you use quotation marks (or italics) to indicate self-quotations? All the style guides I have available – Chicago Manual of Style, MLA Style Manual, and APA – agree. Italics are never used to indicate quotations and should be used sparingly for emphasis. And, although all three of my guides do not provide detailed guidance, they agree with Tolley -- you do not need to enclose your own words in quotation marks in most cases.


I found two instances where quotation marks with self-quotations might be appropriate, if not required. The first is if you quote verbatim a lengthy passage from a prior work of your own. There is some agreement that this should be handled as what Chicago calls a block quotation. In this case, you are clearly quoting something you wrote previously.  The other situation occurs when you are self-consciously referring to your prior words. Abraham Lincoln might have written: “When I put ‘Four score and seven years ago’ on the back of that envelope …” This situation is similar to placing quotes around words when they are used as a word. For instance, “ran” is a verb.


The second issue your question raises involves self-plagiarism. While some argue that this is an oxymoron, the consensus of the style manuals is that your prior work should not be passed off as new ideas. The style manuals suggest a range of solutions – from acknowledging your prior work in author’s notes or in the text, in the bibliography, or by providing a full citation notes. For instance, the APA does not mandate any one solution but urges that the author consistently follow one or another.


Regarding the placement of periods with quotation marks, there is a lengthy discussion of this issue in the FEATURED: WRITING TIPS & TRICKS section at the top of the answers page. In general, American usage calls for periods and commas to always be placed inside the quotation mark. British practice is different. (One American style manual follows British practice.)  

link edited Jun 21 '12 at 03:27 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

I appreciate your input. You have spent some time responding! Missed the FEATURED: WRITING TIPS & TRICKS! As a newbie, I was not aware.

John BryanJun 21 '12 at 06:26

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