Quotation Marks and Implementing Proper Punctuation

Out of all the punctuation marks you might use in your writing, quotation marks are among the most important. For starters, they can mark where direct speech and quotes begin and end, clarify that you’re referring to a title, and can also be used to inject some humor or irony into your work. Needless to say, mastering the art and science of using quotation marks correctly is an absolute must. In this article, we’re going to be addressing some of the core concepts behind punctuation marks and answering some questions you might have.

What are quotation marks used for in writing?

If you’re writing out some prose, your characters will probably have some dialogue. Quotation marks can help differentiate between the dialogue and the rest of the sentence, so they’re an essential tool for any writer’s toolkit. Here’s an example:

Jeffrey said, “I don’t think I can make it on Saturday.”

You can also tell a lot about quote marks from their name. After all, another use for them is to mark quotes in a sentence. Here’s an example:

According to this research paper, “AI is the next big innovation.”

If you’re ever referring to a title, quote marks can come in handy there too. For example:

I’m reading a book called “The Great Gatsby.”

We have one of the most fun uses for the quotation mark: conveying irony. Here’s an example:

Jeffrey said he was “too sick” to come to work.

In the example above, the implication is that Jeffrey’s not sick.

What does the quotation marks punctuation symbol look like?

There are two types of quote marks, visually speaking.

First, we have the double quote marks: “ “

Then, there are the single quote marks: ‘ ‘

Double quotation marks are the favored choice, with single quotation marks indicating quotes or direct speech within a sentence that’s already bookended in double quote marks. For example:

Jeffrey said, “I asked her if she was coming tomorrow, she said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’”

Does punctuation go inside or outside quotation marks?

Simply put, it depends on which version of English you’re using. Americans tend to place punctuation inside the quotation marks, like so:

Jeffrey said, “I can’t come in today.”

If you cross the Atlantic, British English tends to treat quotation marks differently. They don’t always place punctuation inside of them; sometimes they might place them on the outside as well!

With that said, there are a few caveats.

Which punctuation marks always go inside of quotation marks?

For American English, commas and periods are always enclosed in the quotation marks, and the same goes for question marks and exclamation marks. But what about the rest?

Which punctuation marks always go outside of quotation marks?

Generally speaking, you wouldn’t put colons or semicolons inside quotation marks unless they’re part of a quote.

How to Use Quotation Marks: A Comprehensive Guide

There are three styles we need to cover here. Let’s get into it!

  1. Chicago Style

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, writers must enclose quotes that are shorter than four lines within double quotation marks. You should place periods, commas, question marks, and other forms of punctuation used in direct speech within the quotation marks as well. However, if the quote is five lines or longer, you need to add it as a block quote which is a topic for another day!

  1. APA Style

The American Psychological Association might not sound like a place to get your punctuation knowledge, but the APA style is tried, tested, and widely accepted. You should place any quote that’s under 40 words in quotation marks, and you should place a parenthesis marking the citation after the quote mark is closed.

  1. MLA Style

The Modern Language Association’s style guide is a veritable treasure trove of language insights. According to them, you need to enclose any quote that’s under four lines in double quote marks. Quotes contained within these quotes should be marked with single quotes

How to use quotation marks to denote titles of works?

Write the title between the quotation marks like this:

“The Lord of the Rings”.

How to check if you properly punctuated quotation marks correctly?

The first step to finishing off your writing is to proofread, but you’ll still be subject to human error if that’s all you do. Grammarlookup can help you make sure that your quotation marks are perfectly punctuated with the push of a button!


Q. Where are quotation marks on the keyboard?

If you’re using a standard QWERTY keyboard, you can find the quotation mark key to the left of the “Return” key. Pressing the key while holding shift will create the double quotation mark.

Q. Do you have to put quotation marks around paraphrased information?

Paraphrasing generally means voicing someone’s opinion or speech in your own words. This makes it a form of indirect speech, so you don’t have to use quotation marks around it. 

Q. Do you have to put quote marks around references?

It depends on the reference. If you are making a reference to someone’s direct speech, you should use quote marks. Basically, if the speech is an unaltered quote, it’s best to use the marks.

Q. Do you have to put quote marks around citations?

If your citation includes a direct quote, you need to add it between these marks.

Q. Do you have to put quote marks around speech or dialogue?

Yes, you should put quote marks around any direct speech or dialogue in your text! That’s their primary use, but remember that you don’t need to use them with indirect speech.

Q. Do you have to put quotation marks around thoughts?

It depends on the writer. Generally speaking, you should write thoughts and internal monologues in Italics, but you can also place them in quote marks if you prefer. However, it’s an unorthodox choice since the thoughts might be misconstrued as direct speech.

Q. How to use quotation marks for footnotes?

If the footnote contains a direct quote, you should add quote marks on either side of it.


Figuring out how to use quotation marks correctly is a crucial aspect of writing well. Now that we’ve equipped you with the necessary knowledge, you’re ready to take your writing to the next level!

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