Punctuation Police: Quotation Marks

Quotation Marks are used for direct quotations and to set off dialogue from the rest of the sentence. Check out these guidelines to help keep your quotation rules straight.

Direct Quotation
Use double quote marks (” “) to enclose a direct quotation.

Examples: 

Robert was famous for saying “Let’s party.”

She told everyone “It’s important to take you vitamins everyday,” but no one would listen.

Remember that direct quotations repeat someone’s exact words, but indirect quotations is a summary or paraphrase. In direct quotations, you should not use quotations marks.

Example:

Cindy said, “I’m excited.”

INSTEAD SAY…

Cindy said that she was excited.


Titles
When using titles of songs, short stories, poems, essays, and articles use a quotation mark to set them apart from the rest of the sentence.

Example:

Tim’s favorite song is, “The Good Life,” by OneRepublic.

Gwen read the poem, “Sunshine.”

Note: The titles of newspapers, books, and magazines should be italicized instead of using quotation marks.

Quotations within Quotations
If you have a quotation within another quotation in a direct quote, title, or dialogue, use single quotation marks (‘ ‘).

Example:

Tina said, I love the short story An Eerie Evening Encounter.

Notice the sentence above with the yellow (double quotation marks) and green (single quotation marks) highlights. Make sure to close both the single and double quotation marks.


Comma and Quotation Marks
When a period or comma comes at the end of a quotation make sure that it is inside the quotation mark.

Example:

I like watermelon,” said Erin. “It reminds me of summer.”

Johnathan replied, “I love the beach this time of year,” he hesitated, “but you should make sure to use plenty of suntan lotion.”

Note: Notice if the sentence continues in a split quotation make the second sentence a lower case, because this is not a sentence that can stand alone (see yellow highlight).


Semicolon and Colon Marks
When a semicolon or colon comes at the end of a quotation make sure that it is outside the quotation mark.

Example:

Jeffery always said, “The grass is greener on the other side”; however, he also said, “Seize the moment and make it your own.”

Note: Notice if you have a split quotation make the second sentence start with an upper case because you are beginning a new sentence (see yellow highlight).

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