Rhetoric and Composition/Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are used to mark direct quotations. This is to give the original writer or speaker credit for their work. If you are paraphrasing, you do not need quotation marks.

  • If you are using a long quotation (long is constituted by 4 or more typed lines), instead of quotation marks, you should indent the quotation. If the quote is two or more paragraphs, indent the first line of the paragraphs an additional five spaces (plus the indent of the rest of the quote). When indenting to quote, you do not need to use quotation marks.
  • If your quote has a quote within it, the inner quote needs one quotation mark and the outer quote needs two quotation marks.
  • Use quotation marks around the titles of short works such as newspapers and magazine articles, poems, short stories, songs and chapters.
  • Periods and commas should be placed inside the quotation marks. Colons and semicolons should be placed outside the quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation points should be placed inside the quotation marks, unless the punctuation applies to the whole sentence (not just the quote).
  • You can set off words by using quotation marks instead of italicizing or underlining them.

Using quoted material within your own writing

  • If a quotation is introduced formally, use a colon.
  • If a quotation is being used with "he said" or "she said," use a comma.
  • If a quotation is blended into the writer's sentence, you can use a comma, although no punctuation may be more appropriate.
  • If a quotation is used at the beginning of a sentence, use a comma after the quote unless the quote ends in a question mark or exclamation point.
  • If you choose to break up the quotation with your own words, use commas to offset the quotation from your explanation.



Apostrophes · Hyphens and Dashes