Quotation Marks With Dialogue
These are the fundamental rules for writing dialogue in a story. They don’t apply to writing theatrical scripts or plays, but they’re great for writing narrative.
- New speaker = new paragraph.
- All of the words that a character from a story actually says must be put in quotation marks.
- If he said or she said follows the words that a character has said, and that character made a statement ending in a period, the actual quoted sentence must end with a comma, where the period would have gone. For example: “You can buy my cookbook,” said Chef Boyardee.
- When you interrupt a quoted sentence with he said or she said, surround the interruption with both quotation marks and commas, as follows: “Hey,” the chef asked, “how do you like my cheese ravioli?”
- A question mark should only end the questioning part of the quote. Here’s what I mean: “Would you rather have some spaghetti and meatballs?” asked Chef Boyardee.
- An exclamation point should only end the shouted part of a quote. For example: “I burned myself!” the chef shouted.
- A comma always follows he said or she said, when he said or she said comes at the beginning of a quoted statement. Here’s an example of this: He said, “Use a hot pad when taking food out of the microwave.”
- Avoid using multiple forms of ending punctuation when writing sentences of dialogue, unless you’re texting, writing a graphic novel, or writing an anime book. Here’s an example of what is meant by multiple forms of ending punctuation: “Who is this Chef Boyardee dude!?!” Naruto asked.
Would you like to know more about the real Chef Boyardee? Click on this link. He’d be an interesting research topic, wouldn’t he?
Quotation Marks for Quoting a Source
In addition to their duties in setting apart dialogue in narrative, quotation marks are also used to quote a celebrity in a magazine article, to quote a book or encyclopedia when doing research, and for making a word or phrase stand out as unique or unusual.
- Example of how you can make a word stand out (but use this sparingly): I’m going to show you how to look like a “bad girl,” when doing your make up.
- Example of quoting a famous person: Michelle Phan tweeted, “Going to Vietnam for the first time The motherland for me! I’m going to be doing some charity work. http://huff.to/9xKYbd.” (Notice how we don’t add the period after “time”? That’s because you have to quote the person’s exact wording.)
- If you ever want to alter a quotation, you must put your alteration in brackets like this: Michelle Phan tweeted, “Going to Vietnam for the first [time.] The motherland for me! I’m going to be doing some charity work. http://huff.to/9xKYbd.” Only make changes that are necessary for communicating the idea correctly.
- Example of a quote taken from an encyclopedia: According to the 2002 edition of World Book Encyclopedia, “The Food and Drug Administration… requires that cosmetics be safe and properly labeled” for the American public (“Cosmetics”). Note that the ellipses (three periods in a row) mean that some words were left out.
- When using parenthetical citation at the end of an informational quote, it depends on what type of source you’re quoting as to what goes inside the parentheses:
- When quoting books and magazine articles, put the author’s last name and the page number in the parentheses. For example: In Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success, we learn that “Fashion is such an intensely personal thing” (Phan 162).
- When quoting an encyclopedia, put the article title in the parentheses. For example: According to the 2002 edition of World Book Encyclopedia, “The Food and Drug Administration… requires that cosmetics be safe and properly labeled” for the safety of the American public (“Cosmetics”).
- When quoting a Shakespeare play, put the act, scene, and page number in the parentheses, like this: In Shakespeare’s Othello, the villain, Iago, says, “Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags!” (I. i. 85).