Punctuation for Quotation Marks: Everything Essential You Need to Know in 2022

punctuation for quotation marks is one of the major important writing aspects you need to hack. Our guide is designed to help you with all you need to know about punctuation marks and quotation marks.

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Summary

When writing direct quotes, titles of particular works, implying different interpretations, and writing words as words, we employ quotation marks.

Quotation marks are not used to separate block quotations.

If you’re quoting a complete sentence, the quoted text is capitalized; if you’re quoting a fragment, it’s not.

When should quotation marks be used?

When you want to use someone else’s words in your writing, use quotation marks. Let’s pretend you’d like to write about something your friend said. This is how you could go about it:

“I despise it when it’s hot outside,” John added.

With a few adjustments, you can write about the same thing without using quote marks:

When it was hot outside, John stated he despised it.

You report the exact words John used in the first statement, which is a direct quote. The second statement is a paraphrasing of what John stated, which an indirect quote is. Only direct quotes require quotation marks.

This norm applies to more than just speech. If you’re quoting a written source, keep the quote in quotation marks unless you’re going to paraphrase it.

Block and run-in quotations

There are two types of direct quotations: run-in and block. Run-in quotations are shorter and formatted in the same way as the rest of the text. Long quotes that are separated from the surrounding text are known as block quotes. They usually appear as a new paragraph (or sequence of paragraphs) with a different font, altered line spacing, or a wider margin. Even though they are direct quotes, block quotes do not require quotation marks to distinguish them from the rest of the text.

And, in case you’re wondering how long a quote must be to be considered a block quote, the length varies depending on the style guide. If you must adhere to a style guide, review it for best practices. If you don’t have to follow a style guide, develop your own guideline (for example, a block quotation is five lines of text) and stick to it.

The guidelines for using quotation marks are as follows:

The first law of quotations is that they must be closed after they have been opened. The person reading your work must be able to tell where the quote begins and stops. But that’s a simple task. How about some more challenging quotation mark rules?

Capitalization and quotations

The content inside quotation marks is sometimes capitalized, and sometimes it isn’t. The quoted material’s capitalization is determined by the material itself; if you’re quoting a whole sentence, you should begin the quote with a capital letter, even if it’s in the middle of a phrase:

“There’s no chance we’ll get there in time,” she said emphatically.

Don’t start a quote with a capital letter if you’re quoting a phrase or a section of a sentence:

He shut the door after describing them as “loud, smelly, and absolutely irritating.”

If you’re going to divide a quote in two to insert a parenthetical, don’t do it.

The second portion of the quote should be capitalized:

“The problem with opinions is that everyone has one,” Paula explained.

Other punctuation symbols and quotation marks

Is it better to put punctuation inside or outside quotation marks? This subject largely concerns the punctuation marks at the end of sentences; punctuation marks that begin a quote are never placed within quotation marks.

Punctuation at the end of sentences is a different story. In the United States, commas and periods are always placed inside quotation marks, but colons and semicolons (as well as dashes) are placed outside:

“Last night there was a storm,” Paul explained.

Peter, on the other hand, was not convinced. “I’m not convinced that’s what happened.”

Peter was well aware of Paul’s “weakness triangle”: he was deaf in one ear, slept like a log, and was prone to lying.

Paul anticipated a quarrel and murmured merely “But I saw it”; it was going to be a long night, and he didn’t want to start it off with a battle.

Exclamation points and question marks have their own set of regulations.

They go inside the quotation marks if they apply to the cited item. They travel outside the sentence if they apply to the entire sentence:

“Why do you people always fight?” Sandy inquired.

Is it true that the dog barked every time Sandy said, “I’m bringing dinner”?

There are quotes within quotes.

Now that you’ve learned how to use quotation marks, punctuation, and capitalization, what if the quote you want to use already has quotation marks? This is also possible. Let’s say you want to write a straight quote from one of the Harry Potter books in which someone praises their favorite chapter. Would you do it this way?

“In the entire series, “The Dementor’s Kiss” is my favorite chapter,” Tom commented.

Doesn’t seem to function, does it? You might even be able to perplex your word processor. However, if you do it this way, everything will look a lot better:

“In the entire series, ‘The Dementor’s Kiss’ is my favorite chapter,” Tom commented.

See how much better that was? For quotes within quotes, we use single quotation marks.

Titles of short works, words as words, and scare quotes are examples of other usage of quotation marks.

There are a few other uses for quotation marks besides putting off other people’s speech. You might use quotation marks to highlight titles of all types of works (AP Stylebook) or simply short compositions (AP Stylebook) depending on the style guide you’re using (most of the other style guides). Italicize the titles of books, albums, magazines, newspapers, and other single and larger works of work. Quote marks are used to emphasize poems, chapters, and articles—smaller bodies of work or bodies of work that make up a larger body of work.

Quote marks can also be used to indicate words that are used as words. To take a breath, for example, “inhale” implies to take a breath. The quotation marks indicate that you’re discussing the term itself rather than the action of breathing. However, other style guides may prescribe different standards, such as italicizing words used as words rather of putting them in quote marks.

Some writers use quotation marks around words from which they desire to separate themselves. Scare quotes or shiver quotes are the terms for quotation marks used in this manner. It implies that you’re using a term in an uncommon way or that you don’t necessarily agree with it:

The author of this essay is a “professional” writer.

Scare quotes are similar to air quotes, and if you’re familiar with air quotes, you’ll know that they’re best used in moderation. Scare quotes are the same way.

For translations, quotation marks may be used instead of parentheses. As a result, you can compose translations like this:

When they first met, she said bonjour (good day).

However, you may also do it this way:

When they first met, she said bonjour, which means “good day.”

Only use single quotation marks.

Single quotation marks can be used for quotes within quotes, as we’ve already mentioned. But that’s not all; they can also be used instead of parentheses for translations, and they don’t have to be separated by commas in that case:

When they first met, she said bonjour, which means “good day.”

Single quotation marks can also be used to write highly specific words in certain fields:

Many academics continue to debate Lacan’s ‘desire’ and its consequences.

In newspaper headlines, single quotation marks are also used instead of double quotation marks. Of course, all of these restrictions pertain to American English—the difference between single and double quotation marks in British English is a completely separate topic.

Sources

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