Quotation Marks identify titles that won’t stand alone, spoken dialogue, and words quoted from other speakers and writers.
- Next to Periods and Commas.
Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks, even inside single quotes. Don’t confuse the single quote with the apostrophe that is part of the word’s spelling. The period goes outside an ending apostrophe that indicates left-off letters.
- Mom said to Janet, “You had better hurry up”. up.”
- “Well, John,” he said, “seein’ is believin.’” believin’.” (Believin’ uses an apostrophe to indicate the left-off g. The period goes outside the apostrophe and inside the quotes.)
- “Gotta run. Grampa said, ‘A storm’s a comin’.’ ” (The period goes outside the apostrophe and inside both the single and double quotes.)
- Next to Colons and Semicolons.
Colons and semicolons always go outside quotation marks.
- Next to Question Marks.
Question marks belong inside the marks unless the quotation is a statement, not a question.
- Who said, “Men go where angels fear to tread”? (The sentence is the question, not the quote, so the mark goes outside. Notice there is no period before the ending quotation mark).
- Hunter said, “Are you sure?” (The dialogue presents the question, so the mark goes inside the quotation mark.)
- Did the teacher say, “Jefferson was our first president”?
- Know When to Go Single.
Use single quotes for quotations inside dialogue. Use double quotes when writing quotations of what someone has said or written, converting any double quotes within the quotation to single quotes.
- Kyle said, “I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said, ‘Ballots are the peaceful successors to bullets.’ ”
- Use Quotes to Change the Meaning.
Quotation marks may be used to signify irony or reservation, a departure from the normally understood meaning. Use italics, not quotes, for foreign words and for words used as words themselves.
- I suppose you think these are “normal” people.
- You must feel better about no “new” taxes.
- Since the word “surreptitiously” surreptitiously isn’t familiar to many people, why don’t you use the more-common “deceptively” deceptively?