The Book Doctor talks about writing signs for the self-publishing author…
Q: In several places in my novel I have things that the character reads, such as the following:
I turn the page in my journal and write, “This is gonna be a breeze.”
I see a sign that says, “Crab Cakes and Cold Beer—1 mile.”
I sign it, “To my buddy, John, Samuel Two Guns.”
The sign says, “Please be seated.”
My critique group questioned whether or not these phrases should be in quotes.
What do you think?
A: The answer is not the same for all four examples. Specific wording of short signs or notices should be capitalized but not put into quotation marks: I see a sign that says Crab Cakes and Cold Beer—1 Mile. The sign says Please Be Seated.
If the message on the sign is long, such as “We reserve the right to refuse to serve minors, drunks, belligerent people, the shoeless, or the scantily clad,” it would be inside quotation marks.
In the two sentences that refer to what someone is writing, though, use quotation marks around what was written. The first line is correct: I turn the page in my journal and write, “This is gonna be a breeze.”
The third sentence, however, should have a period after John: “To my buddy, John. Samuel Two Guns.”