The grammar police are applying full force to the rampant misuse of quotation marks. At least one web site (www.unnecessaryquotes.com) and The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks are documenting the sometimes hilarious application of quotations in inappropriate places. Examples of publicly posted signs:
Please leave lights “on.”
Closing early for the “snow.”
“Authentic” handmade gorditas.
In every case, the author seems to want to highlight the word or words in quotes—rather than underlining or bolding.
Sometimes, the writer puts the punctuation around words to imply sarcasm.
Example: “I was surprised to see a mistake in Bob’s report, given how ‘highly educated’ he is.”
Best advice: Use quotation marks to enclose only words spoken verbatim by someone else. Use underlining, all caps or bolding for applying emphasis.