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Quotation Marks: Understanding Their Proper Use

Quotation Marks
Written by Lindsay Tigar

As writers, it’s crucial to verify citations are accurate. In most cases, this requires using quotations to signify words spoken or written by a source. The utilization of quotes is a way to avoid plagiarism and misinterpreting a source’s input or comments. Quotation marks are used to describe the title of a piece of work, books, movies, TV shows, and academic papers. In digital writing, branding, and journalism, block quotations may also be used to break up text or emphasize an important statement.

Here we explore how to use quotations effectively.

Writing direct quote

Writing a direct quote

When interviewing a source for an article, blog, or general piece of content, you can use a direct quote to share their commentary verbatim.

Example: “Writing is my favorite pastime. It gives me great joy and allows me to express myself effectively,” Katrina shared.

Paraphrasing without direct quotes

Rather than using quotation marks, you can paraphrase a source’s contribution.

Example: When asked about her hobbies, Katrina raved about the personal benefit of writing as a therapeutic practice.

Punctuations of quotation mark

Proper grammar for quotation marks.

Quotation marks in writing can be tricky sometimes, it’s important to follow a few standard guidelines to be grammatically accurate.

Punctuation and quotation marks: In American English, the rule of thumb is to keep commas and periods within the quotation marks. Other forms of punctuation are tricky. Most of the time, semicolons, dashes, and colons will go outside of the quotation marks. However, exclamation marks and question marks can be inside or outside. It’s best to ask for a style guide from your client or publication to be safe.

Capitalization: With quoting, capitalization varies depending on what part you are sharing. Generally speaking, the first word of a complete sentence should be capitalized. However, if you are only quoting part of the sentence, you do not need to capitalize.

Example:

A complete sentence: “I find writing to be fulfilling, challenging, and exciting,” Katrina shared.

Part of a sentence: When describing writing, Katrina described the practice as “fulfilling, challenging and exciting.”

Quotes within quotes: When a source is quoting what someone else told them or perhaps, sharing a book or movie they like, the rules of quotation shift. Rather than using a double quotation, you’ll use a single quotation.

Example: “The book that changed my perspective on writing was ‘The Artist’s Way’ since it challenged me to write every single day for many weeks,” Katrina explained OR “My middle school English teacher pulled me aside and said, ‘You know, if you love writing, you can make a career out of it.’ That moment was a turning point,” Katrina shared.

Tweet to text: Need to brush up on your #grammar? Here’s how to use quotations in your writing. #bestwritereva

About the author

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is an experienced, established travel and lifestyle journalist, editor and content strategist. Since uprooting from Asheville, North Carolina in 2010 to Manhattan, Lindsay's work has appeared on several websites, including Travel + Leisure, Vogue, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Self, Refinery29 and countless others. While she is always up for the challenge of any assignment, her main areas of focus include travel, wellness, career, psychology, love and healthy living.

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