Quotation marks

Quotation marks should not be included in DITA content. The marks should be added, if required, during the publishing process.

Quotation marks are formatting constructs. They are arguably not punctuation, but highlighting devices like bold and italics. (In fact, in some cases, bold or italic is used in place of quotation marks.) However, they do contribute to the communication of meaning, in that they often indicate semantics.

Most commonly, quotation marks indicate that the encapsulated text is a literal quotation. DITA has q and lq elements (quotation and long quotation, respectively) which should be used to mark up the semantic meaning of "quotation". When the content is processed into a reading format, the rendering process may highlight the quoted text with italics, single quotation marks, double quotation marks, or any other available highlighting device. Or it may leave the quoted text unadorned. Your role as an author is simply to semantically identify quotations.

Other common uses of quotation marks are for highlighting purposes only, or for purposes more difficult to semantically identify. For example, quotation marks may be used to highlight the use of a new term (this is what is known as "WYSIOO"), to indicate a foreign term (they preferred the "status quo") to indicate irony (his autobiography is a great "novel"), to cite a newspaper or reference (it was in "The Age") or to reference popular culture (that sausage was "noice").

If the DITA information type you are using does not provide a semantic element, you should try to re-phrase the text so that it reads unambiguously without the quotation marks.

In the Cambridge Guide to Australian English Usage, author Pam Peters points out that "ideally, the intended emphasis or meaning is conveyed by the choice of words, appropriately arranged". For example, prefixing the word "so-called" may help convey the meaning of irony or emphasis.

Malcolm Parkes, author of Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West, wrote of the quotation mark:

Its primary function is to resolve structural uncertainties in a text, and to signal nuances of semantic significance which might otherwise not be conveyed at all, or would at best be much more difficult for a reader to figure out.
Parkes 1993

According to Parkes, "quotation marks were gradually accepted during the first half of the eighteenth century", which certainly means that Shakespeare managed without them at all!