Learn the Correct Way to Use Quotation Marks in a Headline

Use single quotes, but always follow the standard in your style manual

Quotes on vector technology pattern Background
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In headlines for the web, use single quote marks instead of double quotes. Although in U.S. English, quotes are offset with double-quote marks, the convention—with its roots in print journalism—differs for headlines.

Headlines on the Web

In HTML, various levels of headlines are marked by H levels. The title of a webpage, for example, is level H1. A subhead is H2. Internal section heads are H3. In standard usage, HTML supports up to six levels of headlines, H1 to H6, which nest within each other like a formal hierarchical outline.

In these headlines, follow these standard practices for quotes:

  • Always use single-quote marks.
  • Use a quote mark to offset a direct quotation. For example: Mayor Jones says 'good chance' she will seek re-election.
  • Use a quote mark to offset a word qua word if you cannot use italics. For example: How the word 'identity' has shifted in meaning versus How the word identity has shifted in meaning.
  • Use a quote mark to offset commands and programming terms. For example: Deleting files with the 'rm' Linux command.

Punctuation with Quotes

In U.S. English, punctuation generally falls within the quote marks whereas in British English, punctuation generally falls outside. For example, a U.S.-based website would write: Chief open to 'negotiated settlement,' continues to negotiate whereas in the UK, it'd be: Chief open to negotiated settlement', continues to negotiate.

Rely on Your Stylebook

In professional writing, the first rule always relates to the stylebook that governs your work. Journalists, for example, use the official stylebook of the Associated Press. Literary writers, however, prefer the Chicago Manual of Style. Different stylebooks set different standards, because there's no objectively correct method of punctuating quotes. In fact, the only real rule is to be consistent—pick a practice and stick with it.