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Quotation marks

Quotation marks

There are several different ways you can put quotes into your sentences. You generally need to use commas to separate the quote from the rest of a sentence, especially if you introduce the quote by saying so-and-so says:

Quotation marks

There are two commas used here. The first comma goes straight after the word ‘said’. Then there’s a single space before the first quotation mark. At the end of the quote, before we close the quote with quotation marks, we put another comma. Then we close the quote with quotation marks, put a space in, and continue with the rest of the sentence.

If there’s an exclamation mark at the end of the quote, it can replace the second comma:

And then Jason said, "Holy cow!" and saw what he was looking at.

However, there are cases when you don’t use a comma to separate a quote. If the quote fits naturally into the flow of the sentence then you can leave out all of the commas:

The professor described the animal as being "large and hairy".

Periods and commas at the end of a quotation usually go inside the quotation marks. In Australia however it is acceptable to only put the period inside the quotation marks if the quote is a complete sentence. It is also acceptable in Australia to use single quotation marks rather than double quotation marks for quotes (except in newspapers).

Depending on whether they are part of the actual quote or just part of the general sentence, periods, commas, question marks, and exclamation points can go either inside or outside the quotation marks.

When the punctuation is part of the actual quote, it goes inside the end quotation mark:

I heard Jeremy say after the party, "My mother will kill me!"

The exclamation mark serves as a full stop so we don’t need a period at the end of the sentence as well. But sometimes the punctuation can be part of the sentence, rather than the quote. In this case, it goes outside the end quotation mark:

Did Jeremy say, "Mum’s going to kill me"?

If you introduce a quote with an independent clause, instead of a comma, you use a colon to introduce the quote.

In his famous paper on vegetable soup, Marcus raised this point: "If we don’t eat enough vegetables, they will get lonely."

Handy Hint - Quotes within quotes

Sometimes you need to put a quote inside another quote. This can happen when you’re writing what someone said, and the words that that person said include another quote or name that needs to be put inside quotation marks. When this happens, you need to use double quotation marks for the outside quote, and single quotation marks for the inside quote. People often write single quotation marks the same as an apostrophe.

Here I’ve italicised the full outer quote which uses double quotation marks:

Trevor said, "I always like to yell out ‘referee, referee’ when I’m watching a soccer match."

And here I’ve italicise the inner quote, which uses single quotation marks:

Trevor said, "I always like to yell out ‘referee, referee’ when I’m watching a soccer match."