Quote marks are almost always double (“ ”) even when used for things other than quotes: “Bodies”, as extras are known in the film business, earn about £80 a day.
The exceptions are quotes within quotes – She said: “They describe him as ‘rather awkward’.” – and when quote marks are used in headlines.
Quotes that consist of one or more full sentences are generally introduced with a colon: He says: “Life has been good to me. I look forward to every new day.” (Note that the final full stop is inside the quote mark.)
He says that life has been good to him. “I have no regrets about anything.” (No colon before the quote because it isn’t preceded by says – or explains, continues or whatever. Final full stop inside the quote mark.)
“Life has been good to me,” he says. (Comma inside quote marks.)
“Life has been good to me,” he says. “I have no regrets about anything.” (Comma and final full stop both inside quote marks. No colon before second part of quote.)
“Life has been good to me,” he says, “and I have no regrets about anything.”
He says that he has “no regrets”. (Quote isn’t a full sentence, so not introduced by a colon, and full stop outside the quote marks.)
In quotes that run over two or more paragraphs, all but the final paragraph take open quotes but not closed quotes. (This enables the reader to tell that the same person is continuing to speak.)
Take this example from an interview with Zac Goldsmith, a leading
environmentalist and the former Conservative MP for Richmond:
“But when I signed up,” he reasons, “none of this,” – and he taps his book – “was on the agenda. So I think it would be absurd for me to say well I signed up when nothing was on the table, there’s a hell of a lot more now than there was in terms of environmental policy, and if I don’t get each and every one of these ideas into the manifesto I’ll resign. Even if none of it is in the manifesto, then I will become a professional nuisance within the Conservative party.
“What I won’t do is drop my commitment to these issues at any point. You’re not going to have me standing up on Question Time saying absolutely, the Conservative party was absolutely right to drop its opposition to the third runway. You’re not going to see me do that. I don’t need to become a political automaton.”Zac Goldsmith