‘Single quotes ‘ are to be used for the first quotation ; then double for a quotation within a quotation. If there should be yet another quotation within the second quotation it is necessary to revert to single quotation marks.’
Hart’s Rules, English Works, 63
There seems to be no reason for perpetuating a bad practice. So, unless the author wishes to have it otherwise, in all new works the compositor should place full points and commas according to the examples that follow :
‘We need not follow a multitude to do evil’.
No one should ‘ follow a multitude to do evil ‘, as the Scripture says.
Do not ‘ follow a multitude to do evil ‘ ; on the contrary, do what is right.
Hart’s Rules, English Works 65
I can’t keep up with the style manuals used by every news syndicate, magazine, NGO, or Government Agency in the English speaking world. I’ve never tried. I stay consistent with Hart’s Rules as I leaned them 60 years ago.
I’m a writer. Words are my life. I’ve made my living since I was a teen-ager putting one word after another. Now I want to learn what for me is a new kind of writing, fiction, but all I’m hearing about is punctuation. Getting the punctuation correct is the job of the line editor. Getting the words right is the job of the writer.
Both the examples quoted are “quotes” not “speech”, so the punctuation is correct for them. As far as I know, speech is different. And yes, single quotations are used in printed text (I’ve just looked it up in a book), but not when speech marks are taught to children in school. I imagine its a handwritten vs. typed thing. That happens quite a lot (for example, underlining is how to denote a title in written text, but is considered bad practice for typed documents). Printed text is always different to something you’ve written yourself and different rules seem to apply. It drives teachers up the wall because pupils see something different to how they’re taught in the things they’re reading. But I can confirm that is how its taught in schools because I’ve just checked in my mum’s curriculum books (she is a primary school teacher).
That is all true for the UK. I don’t know about anywhere else and I imagine people develop their personal preferences anyway. There was recently a forum post about the spelling of barbaque for example, and although I know that spelling is incorrect technically, its how I have always spelt it and the other version just looks wrong to me.
NB – pls, I know you’ve remarked on this before, but I’ve just read the National Literary Strategy and it says “speech marks” so it is something I was presumably taught in school 😉