Just about the only time single quotes are necessary in American written English is when you need to indicate a quotation inside a quotation (In “‘Night to His Day’: The Social Construction of Gender”, Judith Lorber shows us that…). No matter what you see on various websites or in other students’ papers, single quotes do not have a different meaning from double quotes. If you want to suggest a sarcastic tone or want to suggest something is not really what it is, use double quotes. (Unless you’re British, in which case all of this is exactly the opposite.)
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