When to use quotation marks
Use quotation marks when you report what someone said or use words taken from a written source.
- The woman shouted, “Look what I found!”
- “Don’t go in there at night,” the man warned.
- According to Smith, “On average, women’s hearing is slightly better than men’s.”
- “Did you see anyone in the store?” the officer asked.
Use quotation marks for the name of an article in a newspaper or magazine, or for the name of a chapter or short story in a book.
- I read “Illiteracy in Our Nation,” an article in Time magazine.
- My favorite short story in Sudden Fiction International is “The Elephant.”
Punctuation guidelines for quotations
Use a comma (or two commas) with an expression such as “he said.”
- “Try the shop next door,” he suggested.
- “Don’t open your eyes,” May said, “until I tell you.”
A period or comma at the end of a quotation goes inside the quotation marks.
- The author tells us that “email has changed the social dynamics of many offices.”
- “We’re having a surprise party for Sally,” he whispered.
With other punctuation (besides a period or comma), put the punctuation mark inside or outside of the quotation marks, depending on whether it is part of the original quote.
- “Did I run a stop sign?” asked the driver.
- “Twenty pushups!” ordered the sergeant.
- I can’t believe that he said “It doesn’t matter anymore”!
- Did that sign say “deer crossing”?
(Notice that if you use a question mark or exclamation point at the end of a quote, you do not use a comma there.)