Quotation marks are for words or phrases taken from someone else.


  1. Place punctuation inside of quotation marks. If a quotation ends in an exclamation or question mark, don’t add additional punctuation. “Are you insane?” you might ask. And I would say, “Only after sitting on a computer chair for hours writing about English mechanics.”
  2. Even if the punctuation is not part of the original text, add it inside the quotation Remember, “add it inside.”
  3. Place punctuation other than a period or comma that is not part of the quote outside of the quotation marks. Is it necessary to say, “Stop typing if your bum is chafed”?
  4. When paraphrasing or clarifying inside a quote, add square brackets. “To be [alive] or not to be, that is the question,” or “To [live] or not to [live], that is the question.”
  5. Omit the quotation marks if you’ve already added the marks earlier in your writing.
  6. Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes. The critic said of Forrest Gump, “It was simply unbelievable. And with lines like, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates,’ I just didn’t get it.”
  7. For a quote preceded by an introductory verb like said, claimed, or stated, use a comma. I said, “For a quote introduced by a verb like said, claimed, or stated, use a comma.”
  8. But if blending a quote into your own writing, don’t begin with a comma. Napoleon noted that “history is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.”
  9. If the quote comes at the end of a sentence without being introduced by a verb like said, use a colon. President Nixon inadvertently immortalized his association with corruption and scandal with the words: “I am not a crook.”

Common Mistakes

Using quotation marks for emphasis:

Wrong– I’m unhappy with your performance.

Why? When you put quotation marks around common words, it indicates sarcasm. Using modifiers such as adverbs or adjective would be the best option, but you can also use bold or italics.

Right– I’m extremely unhappy with your performance.

Right– I’m unhappy with you performance.

Right– I’m unhappy with you performance.