How to Use Quotation Marks

By eContent Pro on Jan 25, 2017
How to Use Quotation Marks

The primary objective of quotation marks is to show exact language, either spoken or written, that has come directly from someone else. Proper usage of quotation marks is essential to protect yourself against accidental plagiarism. There are additional uses for quotation marks as well, which we will discuss in this post.

When Should You Use Quotation Marks?

Quoting the Words of Others

The primary use of quotation marks is to show direct quotations of others. Let’s take a look at the different ways that you can include a quote in your sentence below. In this example, our quote is going to be Brian telling a co-worker that a folder is in his desk drawer. We can begin a sentence that will contain a quote by introducing the individual that provided the quote, as seen below.

Brian said, “The folder is in my desk drawer.”

In this example, we have placed a comma after “Brian said” as a way of signifying the quotation. We have also capitalized the first letter of the quoted material.

You can also begin your sentence with the quoted material, as we have done below.

“The folder is in my desk drawer,” Brian said.

In this case, we ended the quoted material with a comma instead of a period, since there is more to our sentence than just the quote.

You can also break up a direct quote as a way to vary your writing. We will demonstrate this below.

“The folder,” Brian later told me, “was in my desk drawer.”

There are a few rules that you must consider when splitting quoted material in this way. You will want to capitalize the first word of the quotation, but you will not want to capitalize the quoted material that continues the sentence. You will also need a comma at the end of the first half of the quote as well as the beginning of the second half as a way to introduce the non-quoted material and also signify that you are beginning a quote again.

Things to Keep in Mind When Using Quotation Marks

When you are using quotation marks, there are a few guidelines that you must keep in mind throughout your writing. Most of these guidelines refer to punctuation marks. We have explained each of these rules below.

Quotation marks must always be used in pairs

Quotation marks are a punctuation mark that must always be written in pairs. Whether you are using the standard double quotation marks, or the rare single quotation marks, you will need to ensure that you are always closing any set of quotation marks that you open.

Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks

Periods and commas will always need to be included within the quotation marks, and not be written outside of them, even if they are not part of the original quotation.

Incorrect: Brian said, “The folder is in my desk drawer”.
Correct: Brian said, “The folder is in my desk drawer.”

Incorrect: “The folder”, Brian later told me, “was in my desk drawer.
Correct: “The folder,” Brian later told me, “was in my desk drawer.”

Question mark placement will always follow logic

If your quoted material contains a question, a question mark will need to be included within the quotation marks. Additionally, if a quoted question ends in midsentence, the question mark replaces the standard comma.

Incorrect: “Can we still go to the park,” she asked?
Correct: “Can we still go to the park?” she asked.

Use single quotation marks for quotations within quotations

If the material that you are quoting contains a quote itself, you will need to use single quotation marks around the quote within the quote.

Example: Molly said, “I was so excited to get home. Seeing the ‘Welcome to Pennsylvania’ sign beside the highway was the best sight of our drive.”

In this case, we are quoting Molly, while also showing that the sign said “Welcome to Pennsylvania,” so we will need to use both double and single quotations to properly show all of our quoted material.

When quoted material runs more than one paragraph, start each new paragraph with opening quotation marks, but do not use closing quotation marks until the end of the passage

Ashley said, “Ever since my surgery, I haven’t been able to run.

“It just hurts too bad.”

Our example above is multiple sentences that are all part of one quote. Since our second sentence begins a new paragraph, we have included a new introductory quotation mark, but we did not put an ending quotation mark until the end of the entire quoted section.

Final Thoughts on Quotation Marks

Proper use of quotation marks is essential to protect yourself against any type of accidental plagiarism; however, it is best to use direct quotations sparingly in your writing. If you are unsure if a segment of text needs quotation marks, let eContent Pro help you. Our professionally trained copy editing team will review your document and ensure that you have included proper citations and quotations when applicable. Learn more about our copy editing and proofreading services.

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