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Should we correct punctuation use where people incorrectly use single/double quotations?

I frequently am seeing the following quotation rule used incorrectly:

In Canadian and American style, use double quotation marks to set off words used as words, words used ironically or as slang, words that are particularly significant, and words that may be unfamiliar to the reader. Note: Italics may also be used to set off words in these cases.

Example: The words "effect" and "affect" are often confused.

Many people often incorrectly use single quotation marks in the last example. In Canadian and American style, use single quotation marks to

This, therefore, would be an incorrect use of single quotation marks:

Example: The words 'effect' and 'affect' are often confused.

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    I don't think really old questions should be edited for punctuational pedantry, but if you see it in a newer question I would edit. – simchona Nov 17 '11 at 23:46
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    Note that your quote says Canadian or American style. This website is not "American Language & Usage" but "English Language & Usage", meaning we should be flexible enough to accommodate spelling and punctuation as used in both North America and also Britain and the Commonwealth countries. A quick glance at Wikipedia shows that single quotation marks are perfectly correct for this use in much of the English-speaking world. – Peter Shor Nov 17 '11 at 23:52
  • Why was this post voted down? – ChrisM Nov 18 '11 at 0:27
  • @PeterShor That seems like a good answer, can you post that as a response? – ChrisM Nov 18 '11 at 0:28
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    @ChrisM You don't lose rep for down (or up) votes on Meta. It's a sign of (dis)agreement. – simchona Nov 18 '11 at 0:52
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    I know this ain't a public opinion poll, but I use double quotes only for quotations, i.e. part of what something someone has written. I use single quotes in order to mention a word as a dictionary entry or as the label for a concept. When quoting a quotation...I'll alternate but I'm never sure which on to start with. – Mitch Nov 18 '11 at 2:25
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    @simchona but there's nothing to disagree with? I asked a question, how do you disagree with a question? Q: "Should we correct quotation grammar?" R: "I disagree" -- Makes no sense. The correct response would be to post a response saying "I don't think we need to do this because of x, y, z", and then people who agree will vote up what you say. – ChrisM Nov 18 '11 at 14:54
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Note that your quote says Canadian or American style. This website is not "American Language & Usage" but "English Language & Usage", meaning we should be flexible enough to accommodate spelling and punctuation as used in both North America and also in the U.K. and other Commonwealth countries. A quick glance at Wikipedia as well as this blog post shows that using single quotation marks to set off words is perfectly correct in much of the English-speaking world.

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The use of a type of quotation mark instead of the other is just a matter of style; both are allowed, depending on the country where you are.

For example, if you change the following sentence to move the period inside the quotation mark, you are adopting the American style, which (as already noted by Peter Shor) is not the de facto standard accepted on EL&U.

The title of the book is, "101 ways to cook a sentence".

Editing a post just to change the style, when the used style is fine, is not what you should do. If you find something else that needs to be changed (spelling, punctuation), then it is perfectly fine if you adapt the post to your own style, but changing only the style on many posts is not what you should do.

This doesn't include using a style that is not standard in any English dialect, such as writing quoted text instead of "quoted text." The first should just be used if you want to avoid the Markdown or the HTML parser handles some characters in the quoted text in a particular way, such as in the case of "__test__," if you want the underscores to be shown, instead of being used to highlight the text.

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