Quotation marks enclose a direct quotation, that is, the repetition of someone’s exact words.


- “Keep your head down and charge!” the coach said.

- Her exact words were “Bake the bread at 350 degrees.”

NOTE: Indirect questions do not take quotation marks.


- The coach said to keep your head down and charge.

- She told us to bake the bread at 350 degrees.


a) Commas and periods are always placed inside the closing quote marks even if the quoted material is contained within the sentence.


- She thinks we’re “off the wall,” but I think our idea will work.

- We’ve heard him say a thousand times, “Waste not, want not.”

- “Tell me something I’ll remember forever,” she said.

- You’ve read the poem “Ash Wednesday,” haven’t you?

b) Semicolons and colons are always placed outside the quotation marks.


- Look up the title under “Animated Cartoons”; copy the cartoon features listed there.

- The following animals are considered “marsupials”: kangaroo, wombat, and koala.

c) Question marks and exclamation points are placed inside the final quotation mark if they are part of the quoted material. Otherwise they are placed outside the quotation marks. Only one end mark is used at the end of a sentence containing quoted material.


- Have you read the report “Single-Parent Families”? (The entire sentence is the question; the end mark comes after the final quotation mark.)

- He sent Josh the article “Why Can’t Ivan Compute?” (The title is a question and the end mark comes before the final quotation marks.)

- “Dinner is hot and ready to eat!” he called.

- I can’t believe they want us to increase sales “by twenty percent”!


a) Quotation material that is only two or three lines long is enclosed in quotation marks and included as part of the regular text.

Example: The movie critic was blunt about her reactions to the film. She stated that it “has the intelligence of a jellyfish and as much reality as Max Klinger’s insanity pleas.”

b) Linger quotations have no quote marks and are set off from the rest of the text by being indented and single spaced.

Example: The movie critic was blunt about her reactions to the film. This movie should suffer an early and merciful death. It has the intelligence of a jellyfish and as much reality as Max Klinger’s insanity pleas. I don’t know what the director intended for this film; but unless it was to bore us to death, he has certainly failed.


Single quotation marks are used to set off a quote within a quote.


- Carla said, “Every time I hear ‘Amazing Grace’ I want to cry.”

- “When I asked him what he wanted, he replied, ‘Safe passage to Cairo.’”


Quotation marks are used to enclose the titles of articles, chapters of books, poems, reports, many government publications, short stories, individual songs, workshop or conference titles, and titles of proceedings.


- “The Red Badge of Courage” is required reading in most college literature programs.

- “Born in the USA” made Bruce Springsteen as well known as Tina Turner.

- Read the chapter “How Diet Affects Immune Functions” before you change your eating habits too radically.

- The report “Equality in the Workplace: A Ten-year Study” shows how much work still needs to be done.

- Louise Glück’s poem “The Triumph of Achilles” appears in her latest collection.

- The IEEE international conference focused on the theme “Ultrasonic Research: Practical Applications.”

- Throughout the weekend, we will offer two workshops titled “Living with Stress” and “Getting Control of Your Finance.”


Use quotation marks to enclose terms and expressions that are considered odd or unusual (slang terms in a formal report) or that are likely to be unknown to the reader (jargon, technical terms).


- The President told reporters he regarded his opponents as “flaky.”

- Not many people know the functions of “T cells” or “B cells” in the immune system.

- Scott said he was as full as “a bug-eyed tick.”

- The term “downloaded” should be defined in your book.