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I'd like to know which double quotes should be used when writing German in Switzerland.

A Wikipedia article explains that the French « ... » quotation marks (Guillemets) are more often used than the German ones „…“ (Gänsefüsschen in Switzerland, Gänsefüßchen in Germany, literally goose feet).

I've seen very little use of the German quotes in the press and as I tend to be more in contact with French texts, I personally prefer the « ... » quotes. However, whenever I type German Text in Microsoft Word 2011, I get annoyed by the automatic replacement of " with the German „…“. Who is right? Wikipedia or Microsoft?

Can somebody who is versed in Swiss typography please give his/hers five cents — sorry, I should have written « 5 Rappen » — about this topic?

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BTW, in Germany we usually use Guillemets like »this«. The only exception is Switzerland. – FUZxxl Jul 15 '11 at 21:31
And as Hubert never gets tired to stress: »these« are called Chevrons and the name guillemets is reserved to «these». – Jan Jul 23 '15 at 10:00
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Wikipedia says:

In Switzerland, however, the same quotation marks as in French are used: «O».

Double angle quotation marks without spaces are the standard for German printed texts in Switzerland:

Andreas fragte mich: «Hast du den Artikel ‹EU-Erweiterung› gelesen?»

And it's always a reliable source, as far as I experienced.

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It did not cross my mind to check in the English version of Wikipedia. Thanks for the link. – Pierre Arnaud Jul 15 '11 at 20:03
So schreibt auch die NZZ - das Flaggschiff deutschsprachiger Presse in der Schweiz. – user unknown Sep 28 '12 at 4:30

In school we learn to use the quotation marks „…“ as you suggested.

However, the Duden edition 23 (Actually the reference book used in school.) says

In der Textverarbeitung und im grafischen Gewerbe sind heute auch andere Formen der Anführungszeichen sehr verbreitet.

Meaning that the industry uses other quotation marks as well, but there are no rules for them.

For quotation inside quotation we use only half of the quotation marks:

„Die Sendung heißt ‚Kennzeichen D‘“

(We'd use heisst however, as we don't write the sharp S.)

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thanks for your explanations. – Pierre Arnaud Jul 17 '11 at 21:05
I agree with Georg Schölly that „…“ is used in general. However, in printed media Gullimets « ... » are commonly used. Just to be sure I checked a newspaper and a mag today. You can see the use of Gullimets on the websites of the major Swiss newspapers as well. See NZZ or Tagesanzeiger for example. – Lukas Dec 7 '11 at 7:03
Note that guillemets are not very suited for handwriting in my opinion and this is probably the reason they aren’t taught in schools. – Wrzlprmft Sep 22 '14 at 15:00

In der Schweiz sind für amtliche Texte die typografischen Anführungs- und Schlusszeichen (Guillemets) « » zu schreiben; die in Deutschland übliche Schreibung » « ist nicht zulässig. Nicht empfohlen werden Gänsefüsschen („ “ ‚ ‘).

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Duden has published the dictionary Schweizerhochdeutsch, Wörterbuch der Standardsprache in der deutschen Schweiz, edited in 2012 by the Schweizerischer Verein für die deutsche Sprache, which states:

Spitze Anfüuhrungszeichen werden in der Schweiz «...» gesetzt, nicht »...« wie in Deutschland.

on p.85 (§ Rechtschreibung). The book is also available as an E-book from Duden.

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An article from PCtipp magazine describes how to use Word to type the correct, i.e., French guillemets, when typing in German (Switzerland):

In my opinion, the easiest is just to type Alt-174 («) and Alt-175 (»), that is, press Alt and while keeping Alt pressed type the number on the numeric keypad.

The early previews of Office 2013 exihibit the same incorrect quote replacement algorithm. Let's hope Microsoft listens to the Swiss users and fixes this in an upcoming version.

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In personal correspondence, you use usually „Moin Leute“ in Germany. The French variants do not even exist on German keyboards.

Nonetheless, in printed documents, especially in literature, the French variant is used "the wrong way" as it is more easily readable.

In brief: when I write something, I use „Moin Leute“, but all of the around 100 books on my shelf here use the "reversed" french variant: »Moin Leute«

Just grab a random book from with the "look inside" feature and you will see the guillemets in personal speech.

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„ and “ do not exist on German standard keyboards either. – Wrzlprmft Sep 22 '14 at 15:02

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