Quotation Mark Rules
Quotation marks set off direct quotations and the titles of certain works. Below we’ve outlined different rules and examples for correctly using quotation marks in your writing.
Quotation Marks with Direct Quotations
Quotation marks help indicate to a reader what a person said. Direct quotations are a person’s exact words, while indirect quotations are summaries of what someone said. Insert quotation marks at the beginning and end of direct quotations only. Indirect quotations don’t require quotation marks since they’re not the person’s exact words.
Place a comma after explanatory words such as said, asked, announced, and shouted when the words appear before a direct quotation. Place a comma inside of the end quotation mark when the explanatory words appear after a direct quotation.
End punctuation, such as periods, exclamation points, and question marks, should always go inside of the end quotation mark when the end punctuation accompanies the quotation. Place exclamation points and question marks on the outside of the quotation when they’re not part of the quotation. Here are some examples:
Part of the quotation : Jason asked, “How should I dress for a job interview?”
Not part of the quotation : Did you hear Laura say, “I think I’m going to change careers”?
Quotation Mark Examples:
In a divided quotation, only place quotation marks around the words that are part of the quotation. Use commas to set off the explanatory words. If the divided quotation consists of separate sentences, however, then place end punctuation after the explanatory words and capitalize the first word of the second quotation.
Divided Quotation Mark Examples:
When enclosing a direct quotation within another direct quotation, use single quotation marks around the enclosed quotation.
Enclosed Question Mark Examples:
Quotation Marks with Titles
Insert quotation marks around the titles of short stories, songs, magazine articles, essays, chapters, television episodes, and most poems.
If you are writing the title of one of these text types within a direct quotation, then place single quotation marks around the titles.
Why Are Quotation Marks Important?
Without quotation marks, it would be difficult to tell the difference between a person or character’s spoken words and other descriptions. Also, because quotation marks set off a person’s exact words, they can help you avoid plagiarizing another person’s work by indicating that you are directly quoting from that person.
Check out our free, printable Quotation Mark Worksheets