When styling body copy, is it more correct to have the quation marks in italics as well as the quote.

Example A
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec mi turpis, tempus ut tristique eget, eleifend congue erat. "Vestibulum bibendum nisi ac augue vestibulum, a aliquam elit lacinia." In justo est...


Example B
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec mi turpis, tempus ut tristique eget, eleifend congue erat. "Vestibulum bibendum nisi ac augue vestibulum, a aliquam elit lacinia." In justo est...

I've always gone with A, however I was just styling some text and second guessed myself.

  • 1
  • 1
    @Cai nice, so if I was to use that for "" then by that answer, I think that you should have them in italic, as they belong to the quote. Commented May 4, 2016 at 12:36
  • 1
    Personally, I would say so yes, but that's just my opinion. It's an interesting question. I'll try and do some research when I have time later.
    – Cai
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 12:49
  • 1
    It's a design decision - do what looks better in the context. I believe that the method in A generally looks better Commented May 4, 2016 at 13:24
  • 1
    @ZachSaucier wether something looks good isn't the only reason to make any design decision
    – Cai
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 16:23

3 Answers 3


Why is the text set in italic?

If the text is being set in italic to show that the text is being quoted, I would argue that the quotation marks are a part of the quote—so they should be set in italic too (Some may argue the opposite, but my last argument trumps this anyway). If you are setting the text in italic to add emphasis then it depends on...

What exactly is being set in italic?

If you are setting a portion of the quote in italic, having the quotation marks italicised doesn't make sense. First of all, the quotation marks are separate from the content of the quote and secondly if you had one quotation mark set in italic (because your italics were adjacent to a quotation mark, for example*), you would have to set the other quotation mark in italic too—They are a distinct pair, so having one italic and one not would make no sense. Ergo, if you have anything less than the whole quote set in italic, the quotation marks are not set in italic.

*The logic here is flawed anyway.

The aesthetic effect on the text

This is the most important point. If you decide to set only the body of the quote in italic, you're likely to run in to problems. The designer of the font you are using spent a lot of time manually adjusting the kerning between characters, including quotation marks, they didn't however spend any time looking at how the various styles worked together (not at this level, anyway). Punctuation is designed to work with the font it is a part of, nothing else. (side note: bold/italic/regular etc are different fonts, they are part of a larger typeface, not font).

Take these examples. Only the body of the quote is set in italic here:

Body set in italic

Notice the large space between the opening quotation mark and the 'I', and the almost collision of the closing quotation mark and the question mark. Do you want to manually kern all of these in your text? Probably not.

This is the whole quote, including quotation marks, set in italic:

Whole quote set in italic

Much better!

All of this is my personal opinion. Various style guides and authorities on typography seem to give different opinions on italics and punctuation but it seems that italicising the punctuation is the most common approach. This is mostly talking about punctuation in general and not specifically about quotes, though. There are some related discussions on the Stack Exchange network:


According to my favorite style guide, this is what the Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition) has to say on the matter (section 6.6):

"Like parentheses and brackets, quotation marks should appear in the same font--roman or italic--as the surrounding text, which may or may not match that of the material they enclose."


"As with parentheses and brackets, when a sentence or phrase in quotation marks appears on a line by itself, the quotation marks are usually in the same font as the sentence or phrase."

So, according to this particular source, it depends on the layout of the quotation. In the example given in the question, which is not on a line by itself, Chicago would recommend that the quotation marks be regular rather than italic text.

  • I understand the argument from a semantic point, but it's impractical from a design perspective (see my last point).
    – Cai
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 18:22

Before answering, I ask a rhetorical question: Why use both anyway? Italics indicate a quotation. Quote marks indicate a quotation. So it's redundant signaling to use both.

But in any case, the answer is: If the quote is in italics, then the quote marks must be also, because they are part of the quote, in the sense that they define the start and end of it. Changing typographic styling at the start and end of a sentence doesn't make sense. Although, honestly, this is a question of semantics and taste as much as a logical (or stylistic) rule.

  • Italics aren't only for indicating a quoted text.
    – Cai
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 15:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.