Quoth the writer, “Nevermore”

That’s right, readers. Nevermore shall you struggle with the proper use of quotation marks. Thanks to these easy tips, you’ll get them right every time.

Quotation marks. by William WM

 Use quotation marks around any form of direct speech.
“Another thing I’d like to see explained is how you punctuate quotations,” wrote Friar.
“We, too, could use a lesson in quotation marks,” added Tess and Decker.

Use quotation marks around excerpts from text.
According Steph’s new venture, EditQuest.com, “In every great fantasy story, there is a hero. And there is a guide.”

Put quotation marks around titles of books, poems, TV shows, computer games, movies, plays, songs, and works of art.
One of Amy’s favorite books is “Memory and Dream” by Charles de Lint.
Brett, however, prefers to read from the “Hávamál.”

Use quotes to break up a sentence—just make sure the sentence flows well with the attribution in the middle.
“I’ve given up shampoo,” explains Urban Panther. “And I look fabulous.”

For quotes within quotes, use single quotation marks.
According to Lori, “You should read ‘Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies.’”

As to placement of punctuation marks in relation to quotation marks, the rule is pretty straightforward: Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation points usually go outside the marks, but go inside when they are part of the quoted material.
Karen’s personal mantra is “I’m still standing! I’m still strong!”
Did Melissa just say, “I really love quotation marks”?
Beth simply asked, “Who doesn’t?”

21 Responses to “Quoth the writer, “Nevermore””

  1. October 1st, 2008 | 10:26 am

    This is the coolest link post ever! Thank you for the love! :) And thank you for the lessons. Changing the face of writing, one post at a time, you are. Good for you.

    PS. I disagree with the quotations around books, TV shows (but yes around episode titles), computer games, and movies. They usually take italics. Some poems take italics, too, depending on their form. (What’s your style guide, though? Maybe that’s why we differ?)

  2. October 1st, 2008 | 11:11 am

    Excellent. I am always nervous about quotation marks. Okay, I need further clarification on something. Here’s a sentence: Thank you, Rebecca, for link loving me. Now, I want to do this: “Thank you, Rebecca,” exclaimed the Panther, “for link loving me.”

    Did I get the punctuation right? I always get confused when I split up a phrase like that.

  3. October 1st, 2008 | 11:40 am

    Urban Panther: You’re welcome and great question. You punctuated that sentence perfectly! If, however, you had two sentences instead of one, you would punctuate them this way: “You’re welcome, Panther,” replied Rebecca. “I’m more than happy to share the love.”

  4. October 1st, 2008 | 3:15 pm

    Thanks, Steph! That’s really nice of you to say, er, write. If I can make people better writers in some small way, that’s a real accomplishment to me. :)

    As to style guide, I use the AP Stylebook. What about you?

  5. October 1st, 2008 | 3:47 pm

    “I love it!” says I.

  6. October 1st, 2008 | 5:32 pm

    “Great,” your sister replies. “So glad you enjoyed the post.”

  7. October 1st, 2008 | 7:17 pm

    Hilarious! Thank you for both the virtual cupcake and the link love.

  8. October 2nd, 2008 | 12:18 am

    OOh, I have a quotation mark pet peeve - when people use quotes to emphasize a word. You know, like “this.” Augh! I was taught to put book titles in italics (Chicago Manual supports this) and to put chapter titles in quotation marks.

  9. October 2nd, 2008 | 7:39 am

    Beth: You’re welcome. I’m just glad to see that you got on the train. Hope you got home safely and rewarded yourself with a real cupcake!

  10. October 2nd, 2008 | 7:45 am

    Melissa: I hear you “loud” and “clear.” Unnecessary quotation marks drive me nuts, too! You and Steph both follow the same rules regarding book titles; guess it depends on the style guide we use. When it comes down to it, as long as usage is consistent throughout a work, that’s all that matters to me. ;)

  11. October 2nd, 2008 | 2:17 pm

    Ooo! I make a grammar to-do list! Thanks, doll!

  12. October 2nd, 2008 | 4:14 pm

    You’re welcome, Lori! From your favorite grammar snob and great big meanie :)

  13. October 3rd, 2008 | 11:53 am

    Rebecca: I use both the Chicago and the MLA. Though with the MLA I make exceptions. No underlining! In fact, I’d venture to say they’re both just guides. I don’t follow either one religiously. First and foremost, I follow my gut according to what I’m working on. Being too rigid can be detrimental.

  14. October 3rd, 2008 | 1:09 pm

    YOU?? A meanie and a snob?? Not at all! :) But you’ll love the book as I did. It’s a fun look at grammar and how sometimes the answer isn’t really the answer. :)

  15. October 3rd, 2008 | 2:06 pm


    Thank you for the pingback and for a very interesting and educational post! Now I’ll have to go back and change all of my Viking Fridays posts… :)


  16. October 3rd, 2008 | 4:39 pm

    Steph: Sounds like the wise words of a skilled editor. (Does anyone underline anymore except online for links?)

  17. October 3rd, 2008 | 4:39 pm

    Thanks, Lori. Although I am totally a grammar snob! Can’t wait to read it.

  18. October 3rd, 2008 | 4:42 pm

    Brett: You’re welcome! No need to change a thing on your blog; it’s great just the way it is. ;) (According to the style of Steph and Melissa, titles are italicized; so you’re all set!)

  19. October 3rd, 2008 | 9:58 pm

    Rebecca, you do grammarians proud! :-) The photo was stunning. Seriously, I stared at it for several seconds before reading the post. The post was genius! Way to rock the quotes with quotes. LOL!

  20. October 5th, 2008 | 12:06 pm

    Thanks so much, Karen! (I love that photo, too. Wish I had quotation mark benches in my yard!)

  21. October 5th, 2008 | 9:37 pm

    Rebecca: I see the underlining, bold, italics, and underlined bold italicized stuff (short-circuiting here!!) a lot in self-help books. It drives me bonkers!!

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