- On May 8, 2018
The Frank E. Campbell funeral home on Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side bills itself as “the funeral chapel.” That phrase, in fancy italicized font bracketed by quotation marks, is emblazoned on Campbell’s awning as if to say, “This is the swankiest send-off money can buy.”
Problem is, when you use quotation marks in cases like this—picture someone making air quotes—you’re saying the quoted matter is so-called-but-not-really, as in, “This place bills itself as the most exclusive funeral chapel in town, but it’s just like any other.” In other words, you’re being sarcastic or skeptical—clearly not Campbell’s intent.
The primary reason you use quotation marks is when you’re quoting someone or naming the title of something. You also use quotation marks when you’re using a new word or term for something—which is often the case in business communication.
I like the following example because the writer also explains what the quoted term means: The building, designed to calm people with dementia, has subdued lighting and winding hallways that encircle the first floor like a running track to discourage “exit-seeking behaviors,” where patients search for ways out of a building.
Should the time ever come, I’ll spend my money on that.