Unnecessary Quotation Marks

Unnecessary quotation marks are everywhere.  The other week while traveling, I couldn’t help but notice the following sign and had to snap a shot to highlight the absurdity of it:

Why does wireless Internet need quotes?  It doesn’t.  And that’s the point.

Likely those involved in marketing and PR for a living can’t help but notice this stuff.  But even if you’re not in communications once you start seeing it, you really can’t stop.

This is not an isolated issue, there is an entire blog devoted to the phenomenon: the “Blog” of “Unnecessary” quotation marks.  Some recent gems from the site include:

Not to be confused with the flying variety


Well that helps clarify what day of the week they’re talking about


I’m afraid to think of what they mean by fresh


Because without the quotes, this would just be confusing


So they “say”…


Why should we care?  As Seth Godin succinctly pointed out last year (but it bears repeating):

When I get a manuscript or see a sign that misuses its and it’s and quotes, I immediately assume that the person who created it is stupid.

I understand that this is a mistake on my part. They’re not necessarily totally stupid, they’re just stupid about apostrophes.

It’s a moral failing on my part to conflate the two, but I bet I’m not the only one. What else are your customers judging you on?

It’s not just about being a grammar stickler. The fact is, we’re constantly looking for clues and telling ourselves stories based on limited information. It shouldn’t matter, but it does.