In English, quoted texts are normally written in speech marks, "like this," or occasionally 'like this.'

However on this site I have seen people writing German quotes like »this« and „this.“

Which form is correct?

Im Englischen werden normalerweise Gänsefüßchen "wie diese" oder gelegentlich 'diese' für Zitate verwendet.

Auf dieser Seite habe ich jedoch auch »diese« und „diese“ für deutsche Zitate gesehen.

Welche Form ist korrekt?

  • I didn't know there was a different way! +1 :D
    – Alenanno
    May 24, 2011 at 23:08
  • @Alenanno Double quotes are considered standard english, although single quotes would be understood. The single quote is tends be used if you quoting a quote, eg he said "the newspaper claimed 'the sky is blue.' "
    – Twelve47
    May 25, 2011 at 10:47
  • I was mainly referring to „this” :D
    – Alenanno
    May 25, 2011 at 13:20
  • 9
    BTW: in english you also wouldn't use "inches signs" but real “quotation marks”
    – cgnieder
    Apr 18, 2012 at 21:35
  • 3
    What you're quoting is American English. British English would use (in order of preference) single quotes like this ’, or double quotes like this ”. (Note the placement of the full stop and comma.) (There should be no spaces, but apparantly that's not possible in comment formatting.)
    – Jan
    Apr 23, 2015 at 10:05

8 Answers 8


There are three legal variants:

  1. Gänsefüßchen and for quotations in quotations ‚ ‘.
  2. »Guillemets« and › ‹
  3. Reversed «Guillemets» and ‹ ›. There is usually a thin space between the word and the quotation mark.

The first version is the most used in Germany, followed by the second.
The third is the preferred in Switzerland but allowed in a German text too.

When to use what?

Use „Gänsefüßchen“ for handwritings. They are easy to write.

Use »Guillemets« for printed text or for text for the screen. They don’t break the line as hard as „Gänsefüßchen“, and all fonts use them correctly. „Gänsefüßchen“ on the other hand are broken in Tahoma and Verdana: They point in the wrong direction.

enter image description here

How to type?

On a German PC keyboard the characters are not available. But there is useful software for Windows. ac'tivAid Forte has a module CharacterAid:


AllChars offers some easy to learn shortcuts:


On a Mac

with US-International keyboard selected as input source they can be entered with + + W for and + [ for .
The symbol denotes the "Option" or "Alt" key, which Apple chose to Translate als Wahltaste.

enter image description here

On a Mac with a native German keyboard or input source layout this would then be: + ^ for and the corresponding + 2 for .

enter image description here

This article lists more options for the most common operating systems.

Don’t ever use ' and " just because they are easy to type.

  • 21
    Excellent answer, but " is perfectly acceptable in machine-written text, for e-mail, forums, etc. Word should autocorrect to the correct marks when language is set to German (Germany).
    – fzwo
    May 25, 2011 at 10:52
  • 5
    @fzwo " is in German a short hand for Zoll (inch). 2" are 2 inches.
    – fuxia
    May 25, 2011 at 10:56
  • 5
    @toscho I know, it's also short for inch in english. That doesn't mean it can't be used as a quotation mark when writing on a machine. It's not great style, typographically, but it's allowed.
    – fzwo
    May 25, 2011 at 11:01
  • 10
    +1 for " being acceptable when typing on a computer (and not using LaTeX).
    – 0x6d64
    Nov 16, 2011 at 7:13
  • 3
    I always try to use the right marks. On a German keyboard quotation marks are often available through AltGr+y (»), AltGr+x («), AltGr+v („), AltGr+b (“) and AltGr+n (”).
    – cgnieder
    Oct 23, 2012 at 16:23

For LaTeX users, there is a nice description in Mikrotypographie-Regeln (German).

It starts on page 8, page 11 contains a quick overview:


deutsch, 1. Form „ “ "‘ "’ oder \glqq \grqq{}
deutsch, 2. Form » « "> "<
deutsch, halbe ‚ ‘ \glq \grq{}
englischsprachig “ ” ‘‘ ’’
englischspr., halbe ‘ ’
französisch «   » "<\, \,">, \flqq\, \,\frqq{}
schweizerisch « » "< "> oder \flqq \frqq{}
schweizerisch, halbe › ‹ \flq \frq{}
Zoll, Bogensekunden \(^{\prime\prime}\)
  • 2
    ^ The very reason why answering a question with essentially a link alone is discouraged. Jun 19, 2016 at 3:03

„…“ & ‚…‘

These are the two correct ways to quote in german. Note that unless in most other languages, including English, the direction of the quotes is the other way round. While English quotes (“…”) are 66-99, in German it is the other way round: 99-66 (if you look at the symbols in a serif font, you will see what the 6/9 refers to). And of course apart from the direction, the first one is placed at the bottom.

The Duden has a nice summary on the rules according to the “Deutsche Rechtschreibung”. In rule 12, they explain when to use the half quotes (‚…‘), which is when they are within another quotation (denotated by full quotes: „…“).

You may use guillements (»…« and ›…‹) as an alternative, but „this“ is the preferred way. Note that they are used as chevrons which means that they are pointing inwards. This is different from its usage in French (and German in Switzerland).

  • 2
    Not in Switzerland. Even on the German Wikipedia, articles about Swiss terms use guillements.
    – RegDwight
    May 25, 2011 at 15:24
  • 1
    I guess in Switzerland there is just a high influence from French (obviously); but in “original” German those are the two ways.
    – poke
    May 25, 2011 at 20:08

Using a typewriter, " is the correct form to denote the quotation mark in German.

For text written by hand and letterpress printing in Germany we use „“

Currently these characters are displayed here by the Verdana font „“.

Hopefully when this site leaves beta, it will get a default font, which renders these characters in a correct way. I have seen Home improvement leaving beta and they got a different font.

If we type „“ now, it will automatically be rendered in the correct way after we leave beta.

I found a further tool to type these characters: Type German characters.

There is a similar tool to type IPA phonetic symbols.

Both tools are web pages, i.e. no installation required.


As far as I know » this « is French quoting style and „this” is German. Not only the correct quoting symbols are important though. I remember quite specific rules for commas etc. that we learned at school, which were quite different from the English and French. This might be another question though and cannot be answered by me in detail.

  • 1
    There is more to it, see e.g. Wikipedia/Anführungszeichen.
    – Tim
    May 24, 2011 at 23:01
  • 2
    is the wrong character for the final quotation marker in German.
    – Debilski
    Jun 26, 2011 at 9:59
  • 3
    In French the guillemets are used the other way round, «like this». »This« is indeed valid in German although not as common as „this“.
    – cgnieder
    Oct 23, 2012 at 16:50
  • 2
    » this « is wrong in French and German. In French Language you use « Guillemets » with padding spaces that are pointing outside the quoted text. In German Language you can use »Chevrons« which have no padding space and point inside. Also „this” is wrong everywhere. The opening sign is corrext (looks like 99) but the closing sign should look like 66 like „here“. Apr 23, 2015 at 6:57

The English Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) has an extensive, well researched and definitive article on the use of quotation marks in most countries of the world. The graphics for the quotes are set out in two main columns (Primary and Alternative usage), with each main column subdivided into the graphics for double and single quotes.

For "German" the primary usage is listed as single and double quotes. The alternative usage is the inward pointing single arrows rather than the internationally more common outward pointing arrows.

On the other hand, Swiss German is listed in the article's table as having exactly the opposite usage, but with outward pointing arrows as the primary usage, and quotes as the alternative usage, i.e., quote marks rather than inward pointing arrows is perhaps the preferred usage.

As for terminology, the Wikipedia article indicates that Gänsefüßchen ("little goose feet") is the name for the arrow quotes, with Anführungszeichen as the name for quote marks. And from their appearance, I'd say that "little goose feet" is a very appropriate name for arrow quotes.

Finally, User 15677's ALT-code answer that two commenters deprecated was more than helpful to me, as I have have for many years been using ALT-codes to enter the umlauted vowels Ää Ëë Ïï Öö and Üü not found on my English language QWERTY keyboard, as well as the double-ess character "ß". Serendipitously, I happen to be engrossed in mapping the ALT-codes for my Sütterlin script fonts and User 15677's answer put me on to a character I'd been looking for, the "hyphen" character (ALT+0173). And I thank the member very much for obliquely helping me to find it!

  • What user15677 has written does not answer the question, and we want answers to do that.
    – Carsten S
    Jul 17, 2017 at 7:54
  • Carsten S: Being helpful is one of the cornerstones of the original SE, as well as this one. But your comment lacked the helpfulness that we expect from all participants in the various SE forums. Your comment would have been far more helpful if you had at least taken the time to explain what you mean by commenting to 'user 15677' that the answer he gave didn't answer the question. But that user very certainly did, by pointing out the ISO "Latin 1" keyboard codes that generate not only the primary German quote marks, but also the code needed to print the alternate (lower) character as well. Jul 18, 2017 at 0:12
  • I did not try to communicate with the user who posted his (possibly helpful) non-answer two years ago, but with you, who answered yesterday. However, there was no need, as you obviously already know it all.
    – Carsten S
    Jul 18, 2017 at 6:42

Windows Character Map:

» = Alt + 0171 « = Alt + 0187 „ = Alt + 0132

  • 2
    Welcome to German language SO. An answer should actually fit the question, which yours does not really do. Would you mind editing it, so it does fit?
    – Burki
    Apr 23, 2015 at 6:51
  • 1
    You answered the Question »How can I enter some quoting characters on a Windows Computer?« But nobody asked this question. The real question was: »What is the correct way to denote a quotation in German?«. Sorry, you get no upvote for this. Apr 23, 2015 at 7:02

I have always seen the "Little Goose Feet," but until today I did not know how to generate these symbols. For anyone trying to generate Gänsefüßchen (“„) with a US Macintosh keyboard, set to German input in your Keyboard Preferences, the key sequence is Shift-Option-W to open a quote („) and Option-2 to close the quote (“). I hope that helps!

Ich habe die Gänsefüßchen fast immer gesehen, aber bis heute wusste ich nicht, wie man diese Symbole herstellt. Bei einer US-englischen Tastatur muss die Option-Shift-W-Taste gedrückt werden, um den Start des Gänsefüßchen („) zu generieren. Um das Ende des Gänsefußchen zu generieren, lautet die Tastenkombination Option-2 (“).

Ich hoffe das hilft jemandem.

  • Wenn Du verrätst, was eine Option-Taste ist, von welchem Betriebssystem Du sprichst und welchem Programm, und welche Einstellungen bei Betriebssystem und Programm gewählt wurden, vielleicht. Feb 21, 2019 at 18:58
  • @userunknown Wie in im englischen Teil dieser Antwort, oder in fluxias Antwort: On a Mac they can be entered with <kbd>⌥</kbd> + <kbd>⇧</kbd> + <kbd>W</kbd> for and <kbd>⌥</kbd> + <kbd>[</kbd> for . Aber das ist auch noch anders bei German KBD: opt+^ und opt+2 sind's da. Feb 21, 2019 at 19:14
  • @LangLangC: Ah, danke, ich dachte der Strich steht für eine Übersetzung, und ich muss nur die dt. Antwort lesen. Und auf dem Mac kann jedes Programm typografische Anführungszeichen ausgeben? Feb 21, 2019 at 19:21
  • @userunknown Alle, die nach Apples Vorgaben coden. [Aber: Ganz genau: Ne. Gibt da Spezialisten, die erfinden eckige Räder zur Texteingabe neu.] Aber irgendwas um 99+% wird's sein. Genial ist der Aufwand auf de-kbd zum Erzeugen typokorrekter Zeichen seit den 80ern: da braucht's genauso viel Tastenanschläge/Fingerverrenkungen wie's Zollzeichen… Da gibt's keine Entschuldigung mehr für "SmartQuotes" oder Zollzeichen im Druck. Feb 21, 2019 at 19:33

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