Quotation Marks and Dialogue

Quotation marks are used to identify words that someone has said. You’ll often find them in fiction, where they signify dialogue, the words spoken by the characters. In newspapers, journalists use quotation marks to signify that something is a direct quote from a person in the article. In academic papers, quotation marks can signify that you are quoting material that was written by someone else. Quotation marks always come in pairs; the first set opens the quote and the second set closes the quote.

American vs. British Quotation Marks

American English and British English differ in the way they use quotation marks. American English uses double quotation marks (“ ”) for quotes and reserves single quotation marks (‘ ’) for quotes within quotes. In British English, the convention is the opposite. Another difference is that in American English, periods and commas go before closing quotation marks. In British English, they go after the closing quotation mark. The guidelines below apply to American English.

Dialogue

When writers become confused about quotation marks, it usually has to do with where to put other nearby punctuation. Below is an example of a conversation between two characters, with their dialogue correctly punctuated.  See More . . . 

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