How To Use Quotation Marks and Punctuation

Quotation marks are used in text to indicate that someone is speaking, and that you are citing his exact words.  Quotation marks are also used in text to indicate that you are citing information from another text, word for word.  Quotation marks are also used around the title of an article, an essay, a short story, a pamphlet, or a poem.

Single quote marks are used writhing double quotes.

If you are writing dialogue, your use of quotation marks can be as follows: 

"I don't want to stop, now," Mary said. "But I will if you want to."

"I would like you to stop," said Bill.

Paragraphing is another indication of dialogue.  With each change of speaker, a new paragraph is begun.  Punctuation marks that are used with quotation marks follow the same rules as they do with or without punctuation marks. If your quotation is a part of the sentence that has other clauses, the period will go outside of the quotation marks.  For example: the writer of 1984, George Orwell, was quoted as saying that, "In order to have imperialism, you have got to be a part of it".  If the quote were written as follows:  George Orwell once said that, "In order to have imperialism, you have got to be a part of it."  The end mark comes within the quotation marks.

Single quotes are used to indicate that someone being quoted is himself quoting in the text.  For example: "I don't want to stop now," Mary said, "but Bill told me, 'you'd better stop, Mary,' so I have."

Other commonly used punctuation marks in English include the comma.  A comma is used to designate the end of a clause and the joining to another clause.  For example: Although my time here is brief, I shall make the best possible use of it.

Commas are also used to separate items in a series.  When they are used with quotation marks, the quotation marks are outside of the commas.  The same holds true for end-of-sentence marks that are used to indicate a question or surprise; the question mark and the exclamation mark are usually within the quotation marks.  Other punctuation marks include the colon which was used to indicate material that would be included as a unit. For example: I propose the following: or, Dear Sir:

An under-utilized punctuation mark is the semicolon.  Most writers prefer to use simple sentences rather than joining two simple sentences with a semicolon. However, when two long sentences are joined, and both can be written as complete sentences, a semicolon is used to indicate that the two ideas are attached and not separate.  For example: My time on earth is coming to a close; however, I will try not to waste a precious moment.


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