In official letters, registration documents and common usage, one can often see unbalanced quotation marks, e.g. «Операция «Багратион», ОАО «Корпорация «Комета» — two opening quotes followed by only one closing quote.

I would like to automate the correct placement of quotation marks. For instance, given the sentence:

 Газета "Правда" сообщила, что Иванов, 
 возглавлявший ОАО "Корпорация "Ромашка", 
 уходит в отставку.

that has five quotation marks: The above text string rendered in a serifed font, with quote marks numbered sequentially

The quotation marks 1,3, and 4 are opening and the marks 2, and 5, are closing.

In general terms, I'd like to know if unbalanced quotation marks are correct usage. Is this specific to the Russian language?

As for the implementation details, it seems that the choice of opening and closing quotation marks in the Russian language follows a simple rule:

If a quotation mark follows a space or a punctuation mark, then it must be a closing quote, otherwise it's an opening quote.

Is this rule correct?

  • 4
    If it's possible, you should write «Операция „Багратион“», and if you have only one kind of quotation mark, you shouldn't to repeat it (»» not allowed) Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 5:15
  • @Artemix, it's a half-answer Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 7:21
  • 1
    Вот авторитетный источник: old-rozental.ru/punctuatio.php?sid=178
    – Artemix
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 9:18
  • @Artemix so Rosenthal states that inner and outer quotes must be of different type? That definitely answers my question. Though I am seeing texts and document deviate from this rule. Perhaps the views did change with the advent of inexpensive typesetting. Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 9:26
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    Цитата: Если между внутренними и внешними кавычками стоит вопросительный/восклицательный знак, то могут использоваться кавычки одного рисунка: Выдающимся публицистическим произведением М. Горького является статья «С кем вы, «мастера культуры»?».
    – Artemix
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 9:27

1 Answer 1


There are two types of quotes in Russian: «French-style» - considered to be the main punctuation tool and „German-style“ - an additional one. Note that the usual "English-style" is not officially allowed.

If you use both "French" and "German" quotation marks, they must be both balanced and nested, viz. «xxx „yyy «zzz „ttt“»“» etc. But if you only use "French" quotes, then several closing quotes must be absorbed into one.

Considering commas and periods, there's no one "simple" rule. If, say, periods or exclamation marks are a natural part of quoted text, then they go inside the quotes — otherwise outside.

  • Thanks for the word "absorbed", it describes the process well. Sorry, I did not formulate the question clear enough. I am looking for a rule to choose between opening and closing quotes, not order of quotes and punctuation marks. Given a sentence aaa "bbb", ccc "ddd"., I need to figure out which quotation marks are opening and which are closing. Here the second and the fourth quotation marks are closing, because followed by a comma or a point, while the first and the third are opening. Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 8:52
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    @DmitriChubarov Это понятно. Но дело в том, что хотя цитата вряд ли будет начинаться со знака пунктуации, всё же нет правила, которое бы это прямо запрещало. То есть Ваша эвристика не будет 100% рабочей. Например, «В русском языке есть следующие знаки пунктуации: «, . : ;», а также пробел». Я понимаю, что выглядит как-то неуклюже, но в технических текстах нарваться на подобную штуку можно в пять секунд.
    – Matt
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 10:02

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