The English Department's
Quick Guide to Using Quotation Marks

Note: We're following U.S. conventions in this guide.

Use quotation marks to indicate word-for-word quotations and all dialogue.

Exception #1: For long quotations in scholarly papers, set off the quotation by indentation without quotation marks. This applies to quotations that are four lines or longer.

Exception #2: If you're writing a script, there is no need to use quotation marks in your dialogue.

Use single quotes to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

Use quotation marks to indicate the titles of short stories, essays, short poems, songs, and articles.

(Use italics or underlining to indicate the titles of books, journals, magazines, and newspapers.)

Put commas inside quotation marks. Put a period inside the quotation marks if the quotation ends the sentence. Put colons, semicolons, and dashes outside the quotation marks. Put question marks and exclamation marks within quotes only when they apply to the quoted matter. Put them outside when they do not.

© The English Department 1999