Quotation marks can be single ‘or double “. Using them often seems pretty easy – and many writers don’t feel the need to check whether they are using them properly. However, there are situations when you know you need to use quotation marks, but you don’t know the correct way to use them. Fear not, however, because below we have presented the right way to use quotation marks, as well as when they should be used. What you need to remember is that quotation marks differ from country to country, although some rules are universal. When it comes to writing a book, be it fiction or nonfiction, using universal rules is better because a lot of your readers might be international, and using localized quotation standards might confuse them.
Dialogue is easy to distinguish in writing with quotations. You use two double quotations, with the first one – the opening quotation indicating that the person started speaking, and the second one closing the quotation, indicating the end. However, do not forget to add a coma before the end quotation if you’re finishing the sequence with he said, or she explained. To better understand this, we have presented an example below.
“I don’t know what I am going to do about it,” Mary said.
If you started that sentence with “Mary said” then the example would look like this:
Mary said, “I don’t know what I am going to do about it.”
Notice that when the sentence is reversed, you need to put a period before the quotation mark, and use a capital letter after the opening quote.
2. Direct Quotes
You are using a direct quote when you are directly quoting what somebody else said or wrote. There are several things to remember when you’re using a direct quote. If the quote is too long and some of the words are not necessary, then you can use an ellipsis to indicate that the omitted words don’t change the meaning of the quote. Additionally, if you’re quoting a direct text, depending on the length, instead of writing it continuously in the sentence and separating it with quotes; you can write it separately in a block. Don’t forget to use [sic] if there is a grammar or spelling error in the quote, like in the example below.
Anna wrote in her diary, “I wish they’re [sic] thoughts were different.”
3. Indirect Quotes and exceptions
When you are rephrasing what someone else said or wrote, then you don’t need to use quotations. The example in section 1 above can be transformed into an indirect quotation:
Mary said she didn’t know what she was going to do about it.
However, if the person said something particularly interesting, witty or notable, it can be included in the indirect quotation with the use of quotation marks. Let’s look at another example.
Mr. Brady, a local gardener, reported this morning that he had seen a “scary, hissing rattlesnake” coiled on a branch.
Notice how in the example above, you don’t need to use a capital letter when starting the quotation, and how there is no need for a comma before the closing quotations. Remember, it is always preferable to use direct quotes if the source material is particularly lyrical, memorable and distinguished. Rephrasing it will only rob it of its beauty.
4. Quotations within quotations
In many situations, you will need to use quotations within quotations. The first thing to remember when using a quotation within a quotation is to use single quotation marks instead of double. Using double quotation marks for the quote within the quotation will confuse the readers. For example:
Mary said, “Tell me what you meant by “I can’t do it.””
The sentence above would read better if it was written with singe quotation marks.
Mary said, “Tell me what you meant by ‘I can’t do it.’”
5. Quotations and other punctuations
Most often, other punctuation marks go within the quote, especially if the sentence ends with the ending of the quote. However, there are some situations where other punctuation marks need to come after the quotation marks. If you’re only using part of a quote, then you will need to use punctuation at the end of the sentence, not the quote. In that case, commas and other punctuations will come after the quotation marks.
Anna is “contemplating greater things”; George said he’d think about it.
In the example above, the direct quote doesn’t end where the quotation marks indicate the end of the quote, so there is no need to put the semicolon inside the quote. In the second part of the sentence, there is no need for quotation marks because it’s an indirect quote.
Image credit: Pixabay[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.