Punctuation: Quotation Marks: Quote/Unquote

Quotation Marks: Quote/Unquote

Nothing spices up your writing like a few juicy quotations. Just consider what a letter would be like without a little dialogue—as dry as rice cakes. Here's how to use these cute little partners in crime.

  • Use quotation marks to set off a speaker's exact words.
  • Example: “Is that person a man or a woman?” we asked.
  • Use quotation marks to set off the titles of short works such as poems, essays, songs, short stories, and magazine articles.
  • Example: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
  • Use single quotation marks to set off quoted material or the titles of short works within a quotation enclosed by double quotation marks.
  • Example: As the wit said, “‘Health’ is the slowest possible rate of dying.”
  • Use quotation marks to set off a defin-ition.
  • Example: The word karaoke means “So you think you can sing? Think again.”
Quoth the Maven

Place periods and commas inside of the end quotation mark; place colons and semicolons outside of the end quotation mark. Question marks and exclamation marks go inside or outside of the end quotation mark, depending on the meaning.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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