How to Use Quotation Marks


Quotation marks(“ ”) always come in pairs—open quotation marks and close quotation marks. They are used to set off exact language, spoken or written, that has come from someone else. You may use quotation marks to quote a source or for dialogue. You can also use quotation marks for titles to indicate it is part of a larger work. Using quotation marks correctly in a paper, essay, or written work will ensure your writing is clear and easy to follow.

Part 1
Applying Quotation Marks to Direct Quotes and Sayings

Applying Quotation Marks to Direct Quotes and Sayings on How to Use Quotation Marks

1
If you are quoting directly from a source, such as a book, article, or journal, always use one pair of quotations around the quote and capitalize the first letter of the direct quote. Do this if you are quoting a complete sentence. For example, you may write:[1] Pollen states in his book, “You can eat whatever you want as long as you make it yourself.” In Othello by William Shakespeare, Iago says in Act II, scene iii, “Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit and lost without deserving.”

Applying Quotation Marks to Direct Quotes and Sayings on How to Use Quotation Marks

2
Whenever you use quotation marks around a full quote, place a comma or a colon before the first, or open, quotation mark. The comma or colon does not go in the quotation mark, just before it. This will let the reader know a quote is coming. For example: Shakespeare notes in his diary, “I am the poor man’s playwright.” Pollen recommends, “Eat food. Mostly plants.”

Applying Quotation Marks to Direct Quotes and Sayings on How to Use Quotation Marks

3
If you are quoting a source within a sentence, not at the end of a sentence, lowercase the first letter of the quote. You can do this if you are using a partial quote of a longer quote in a sentence. For example, you may write:[2] Pollen advocates for taking responsibility for one’s food choices, for eating “whatever you want as long as you make it yourself,” a tall order for some.

Applying Quotation Marks to Direct Quotes and Sayings on How to Use Quotation Marks

4
Commas, periods, exclamation marks, dashes, and question marks that appear in the quote should all go inside the quotation marks. For example:[3] Othello notes, “For she has eyes and she chose me.” Pollen asks the question, “Why don’t we get to know our food?” The last line of the poem “Sestina: Altaforte” by Ezra Pound states, “Hell blot black for always the thought ‘Peace’!”

Applying Quotation Marks to Direct Quotes and Sayings on How to Use Quotation Marks

5
Familiar sayings should be demarcated with quotation marks. Cliches can also go in quotation marks. For example:[4] Everyone knows the saying, “What goes in must come out.” One is reminded of the familiar phrase, “It takes one to know one.”

Applying Quotation Marks to Direct Quotes and Sayings on How to Use Quotation Marks

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These are also known as scare quotes. Scare quotes are not used often. But they can be used to emphasize a word or phrase in a sentence in a mocking or annoyed tone. For example:[5] She did not want to bring up his “issue” in mixed company. The “in depth discussion” of the problem felt insufficient at best.

Part 2
Using Quotation Marks for Dialogue

Using Quotation Marks for Dialogue on How to Use Quotation Marks

1
Quotation marks are essential for notating dialogue, as they signal to the reader the words are being spoken. You should use quotation marks around dialogue in a novel, short story, or poem. For example:[6] “Where is my cat?” the woman screamed. I demanded, “Let me see her.”

Using Quotation Marks for Dialogue on How to Use Quotation Marks

2
Always lowercase the word that follows the close quotation mark, or the second quotation mark. Do this if the speaker attribution appears after the quoted phrase. For example: “What time is it?” the man asked. “Chop, chop,” she said.

Using Quotation Marks for Dialogue on How to Use Quotation Marks

3
Place a comma before speaker attributions like “he said,” “she said,” “they said,” “we yelled,” etc. This will signal to the reader there is about to be dialogue. For example:[7] He said, “I can’t make ballet class tonight, son.” They yelled, “You hooligans!” “We’re late,” she said to her sister. “Tell me you love me, “ he said to his lover.

Using Quotation Marks for Dialogue on How to Use Quotation Marks

4
Any commas or periods that are part of the sentence should be included in the quotation marks, even if the original quotation does not have a comma or a period. For example:[8] “The best way to eat food,” Pollen argues, “is to make it yourself.” (From the original quote, “The best way to eat food is to make it yourself at home, whenever you can.”) “The best investments today,” according to Smith, “are commodities and emerging-market stocks.” (From the original quote, “The best investments today are commodities and emerging-market stocks, not domestic stocks and bonds.”

Using Quotation Marks for Dialogue on How to Use Quotation Marks

5
If you are quoting a phrase that already has quotation marks, change the quotation marks in the phrase to single quotation marks. Single quotation marks appear as ‘’. For example: “So he said to me, ‘You’re going to be a great success,’ and I believed him.”

Part 3
Putting Quotation Marks on Titles

Putting Quotation Marks on Titles on How to Use Quotation Marks

1
Put one set of quotation marks around these titles to off set it properly. Only put quotations around the title, not the author’s name.[9] For example, if you were citing the poem One Art by Elizabeth Bishop, it would appear as “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. If you were citing the short story Ironhead by Aimee Bender, it would appear as “Ironhead” by Aimee Bender. If you were citing the chapter The Boy Who Lived from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, it would appear as “The Boy Who Lived” from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.

Putting Quotation Marks on Titles on How to Use Quotation Marks

2
Always use quotation marks when citing the title of an article or essay in a journal, magazine, or online publication. Capitalize all of the words that are not articles in the title and use one set of quotation marks around the title only.[10] For example, if you were citing the article The President Wants to Keep Us in the Dark by Marc Decosta, it would appear as “The President Wants to Keep Us in the Dark” by Marc Decosta. If you were citing the essay The Fourth State of Matter by Jo Ann Beard, it would appear as “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard.

Putting Quotation Marks on Titles on How to Use Quotation Marks

3
For example, if you were talking about an episode of Friends called The One With the Blackout, it would appear as “The One With the Blackout.” If you were discussing the song Tangled Up in Blue by Bob Dylan, it would appear as “Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan.[11]

Putting Quotation Marks on Titles on How to Use Quotation Marks

4
Plays should always be cited with quotation marks. For example, if you were discussing the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller, it would appear as “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. Do not use italics or underline the title of plays. If you are citing a collection of plays by the same playwright, for example, The Collected Plays of Arthur Miller, you would use italics for the title, not quotation marks: The Collected Plays of Arthur Miller.

Putting Quotation Marks on Titles on How to Use Quotation Marks

5
Do not put punctuation that is part of the sentence in the quotation marks with the title. Only include punctuation that is already part of the title in the quotation marks. For example:[12] Did you like “The Crucible”? I read “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” by Edward Albee on the train today.