Legal Contract Quotation Marks

Legal Contract Quotation Marks: A Guide for Clear Communication

Legal contracts are essential documents that define the terms of a business relationship, protect the parties involved, and provide a basis for dispute resolution. Clear and accurate language is crucial, and punctuation is an essential aspect of this clarity. In particular, quotation marks are frequently used in legal contracts for different purposes. In this article, we will explore the different types of quotation marks used in legal contracts and guide you on how to use them effectively.

Direct Quotations

A direct quotation is a word-for-word repetition of someone`s written or spoken words. In legal contracts, direct quotations are commonly used to incorporate external sources, such as laws, regulations, or other agreements, into the document. Direct quotations should always be enclosed in double quotation marks.

For example, let`s say a contract outlines the scope of work for a software development project, and it references a specific software requirement. The contract may include a direct quotation from the software requirement, enclosed in double quotes, to ensure accuracy and clarity.

Indirect Quotations

An indirect quotation is a restatement of someone`s words, without using the exact phrasing. In legal contracts, indirect quotations are commonly used to convey information from one party to another. Typically, indirect quotations are not enclosed in quotation marks.

For example, let`s say a contract outlines the payment terms for a freelance writer. The contract may include an indirect quotation, such as “the writer will be paid within 30 days of submitting a completed article,” without using quotation marks.

Scare Quotes

Scare quotes are used to indicate that a term or phrase is being used ironically, euphemistically, or in a non-standard way. Scare quotes are often used to highlight a potential ambiguity or questionable usage of a term. In legal contracts, scare quotes are rarely used, if ever, since clarity and accuracy are paramount.

For example, let`s say a contract outlines the conditions for a non-compete agreement. The contract would never use scare quotes around the term “non-compete” since it is a standard legal term with a specific meaning.


In summary, quotation marks are an essential aspect of clear and accurate legal writing. Direct quotations should always be enclosed in double quotation marks, while indirect quotations typically do not require quotation marks. Scare quotes are rarely used in legal contracts since they can create ambiguity and undermine clarity. By following these guidelines, copy editors can ensure that legal contracts are not only legally sound but also easy to understand.