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Quotation mark

 quotation mark; ending quotation mark; starting and ending quotation mark

Indicating German das anführungszeichen; das abführungszeichen; zeichen zur an- und abführung

Indicating French guillemet

Form and use of quotation marks
Shape of quotation marks
A bon mot

Languages and countires have their distinct typographic conventions. So you will not be surprised to see different glyphs for the quotation in different languages.

The French name of these symbols (guillemets) is derived from the name Guillaume who is supposed to have invented the French forms [according to a French etymological dictionary]. This name is used at least since 1677.

[To top/bottom of page] Form and use of quotation marks

For most languages two forms are defined: a primary and an alternative form.

When mixing languages, the quotation mark must match with the quoted language, not with the quoting language. See the example in the preceeding paragraph.

Quotation marks for some languages

To avoid problems with the settings in your browser, the following table shows the glyps as images. The font Times Roman was used for the images, as this font shows the shapes very clearly. Please note the white space between the quotation marks and the enclosed text in some cases.

To describe the shape (for example in ISO standards) comparison to larger shapes are used, such as the figures 6 and 9. See the alternative texts to the images below.

Quotation marks Usage HTML entities for both marks in the image1)
Straight double quotes Typewriting, computing, in tables and the like to substitute the contents of the previous line. In German this form is called gänsefüsschen. Only Unicode provides a correct symbol for this, called Ditto Mark, code U3003, 〃 (〃) " / "
" / "
Straight single quotes Typewriting, computing '
Lower 99 and upper 66 quotes Germany, Austria, Switzerland (handwriting)
Alternative form in Denmark and Norway
„ / „ / „
“ / “
Lower 99 and upper 99 quotes Alternative form in The Netherlands „ / „ / „
” / ”
Lower 9 and upper 6 quotes Alternative form in Germany ‚ / ‚ / ‚
‘ / ‘
Upper 6 and upper 9 quotes Alternative form in USA and Great Britain ‘ / ‘
’ / &#8217
Upper 66 and upper 99 quotes USA, Great Britain, Spain
Alternative form in Portugal
“ / “
” / ”
Upper 66 and lower 99 quotes Alternative form in Italy “ / “
„ / „ / „
Twice upper 99 quotes The Netherlands
Alternative form in Sweden
” / ”
” / ”
Left and right pointing double chevrons Norway, Portugal, Switzerland (printed matters)
Alternative form in Spain
« / «
» / »
Left and right pointing double chevrons with space to the text France, Italy
right and left pointing double chevrons Denmark
Alternative form in Germany
» / »
« / «
Twice right pointing double chevrons Sweden » / »
» / »
Left and right pointing single chevrons Alternative form in Switzerland ‹ / ‹ / ‹
› / › / ›
Left and right pointing single chevrons with space to text Alternative form in France
Right and left pointing single chevrons Alternative form in Germany and Austria › / › / ›
‹ / ‹ / ‹

[To top/bottom of page] Shape of quotation marks

The shape of quotation marks (except the French guillemets) is derived from the comma. Hence some people (non typographers) call them high comma... The shape varies of course depending on font style:

Quotation marks from serif and sans serif fonts

[To top/bottom of page] Bon mot

In the font encoding vector of PostScript fonts the name of the symbols shaped like chevrons is misspelled. Eventually Adobe committed this fault:
It should be noted that the character names guillemotleft and guillemotright are misspelled. A guillemot is a species of sea bird. The correct spelling for these punctuation characters is guillemet. However, the misspelled names are the ones actually used in the fonts and encodings containing these characters.

[To top/bottom of page] Sources

Jürgen Gulbins, Christine Kahrmann: Mut zur Typographie, Springer Verlag 1993; ISBN 3-540-55708-3

[To top/bottom of page] Further links

[To top/bottom of page] Notes


  1. HTML entitites #130 ... #159 are not defined in HTML standards (since no assignment is defined in UNICODE) and are rendered correctly only in Netscape Communicator 4.x and MS Internet Explorer. Correct entity names would be from the UNICODE set. E.g. #130 ➔ #8218. For simplicity I have used the NS/IE forms on this page.


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