One of my pet peeves involves the misuse of quotation marks. Here are the rules as I understand them (correct me if I am wrong).
Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotations. Note that commas and periods are placed inside the closing quotation mark, and colons and semicolons are placed outside. The placement of question and exclamation marks depends on the situation.
He asked, “When will you be arriving at the abattoir?”
I answered, “Sometime after 6:30.”
Use quotation marks to indicate the novel, ironic, or incredulous use of the word.
The procedure whereby physicians drilled into people’s heads to cure them of mental illness was called “trepanning”.
The procedure whereby “physicians” drilled into people’s heads to cure them of mental illness was called trepanning.
The procedure whereby physicians drilled into people’s heads to “cure” them of mental illness was called trepanning.
Use quotation marks around the titles of short poems, song titles, short stories, magazine or newspaper articles, essays, speeches, chapter titles, short films, and episodes of television or radio shows.
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson (but not a full novel; that’s in italics, like this: The Shining by Steven King)
“Closer” by Nine Inch Nails (not a full CD; that’s like this: Odelay by Beck)
“Once More with Feeling” an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer written by Joss Wheedon (but not a full feature length film; that’s like this: Good Fellas directed by Martin Scorcese)
Do not use quotation marks in indirect quotations or block quotations.