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What You Need to Know About Using Quotation Marks

Girl with a skull on black background, studio shot

If you’re like most people, quotation marks can often be a source of frustration. It seems simple enough: All you have to do is put the quoted material inside two quotation marks and you’re done, right? Wrong. There’s a lot more that goes in to quotation marks and you’ll find all the rules below.

Capitalize the beginning of a quote only if the quote is a complete sentence.

Correct: We were listening to music in the car when John said, “This is the best song ever.”

Incorrect: We were listening to music in the car when John said, “this is the best song ever.”

Don’t capitalize the beginning of a quote if the quote is not a complete sentence.

Correct: Mom said we can continue listening to music as long as we “keep the volume reasonable.”

Incorrect: Mom said we can continue listening to music as long as we “Keep the volume reasonable.”

Periods and commas go inside the quotation marks.

Correct: My dad always said, “Hard work pays off.

Incorrect: My dad always said, “Hard work pays off”.

Question marks and exclamation points go outside the quotation marks unless they originally appear in the quoted material.

Correct: After they scored their first touchdown, Johnny yelled “Go Raiders!

Incorrect: After they scored their first touchdown, Johnny yelled “Go Raiders”!

Correct: Would you say that your favorite Taylor Swift song is “Shake It Off”?

Incorrect: Would you say that your favorite Taylor Swift song is “Shake It Off?

If your quote has a misspelled word, add [sic].

Correct: In the prologue to his new book, the author states, “Their [sic] were many things to consider.”

Incorrect: In the prologue to his new book, the author states, “Their were many things to consider.”

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