On this Monday, we’ll go on a mini-rant about misused quotation marks as I saw too many instances this weekend to ignore the issue. In my industry, the most common is the tag line in quotation marks. Unless someone actually said it and you cite that source, quotation marks are unnecessary. For example, as shown in the header above, “Movers Who Care” is not a quote. (Or if it is, it should state the author.) It’s merely a tag line, yet this mistake graces all of their nearly 1300 trucks on the road (stat from company website). In an effort to stop this misuse, Splendid Communications has easy guidelines to follow when using (mainly, when not to use) quotation marks. Perhaps the funniest is the use of quotation marks around adjectives like “best.” The blog author points out that this usage “usually imply a sarcastic or satirical tone.” She goes on to explain, “So when you say your company is the ‘best’ wedding planning company in California, it doesn’t exactly convey the message you’re intending.” She also links to this amazing blog filled with photos of real-life unnecessary quotation marks. It’s both sad and amusing how many there are.
As a designer, I sat back to ponder the bigger picture here. As my engineering husband would say, “what is the root cause?” I think, perhaps, it is that the creators of these unnecessary quotation mark instances wanted to separate or emphasize that bit of information, but didn’t know of a better way. To these people, I suggest a different font choice, a different color, or style. Even underlining would be more appropriate. The ultimate goal of all those suggestions: creating a hierarchy in the information. Establishing that which is most important and reducing everything else to most effectively communicate to the viewers. Or, of course, they could hire a professional who would already know how to do all those things.