Often the data you need to encode is almost, but not quite, a series of words. A list of names, a list of color names–values that are mostly single words, but sometimes have an embedded spaces. textdata has you covered:

>>> words(' Billy Bobby "Mr. Smith" "Mrs. Jones"  ')
['Billy', 'Bobby', 'Mr. Smith', 'Mrs. Jones']

Embedded quotes (either single or double) can be used to construct “words” (or phrases) containing whitespace (including tabs and newlines).

words isn’t a full parser, so there are some extreme cases like arbitrarily nested quotations that it can’t handle. It isn’t confused, however, by embedded apostrophes and other common gotchas. For example:

>>> words("don't be blue")
["don't", "be", "blue"]

>>> words(""" "'this'" works '"great"' """)
["'this'", 'works', '"great"']

words is a good choice for situations where you want a compact, friendly, whitespace-delimited data representation–but a few of your entries need more than just str.split().