1.12: Quotation Marks

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Quotation Marks

Don’t Forget the Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are how we tell our readers we are including words that aren't our own. Whether we're using dialog or quote material from our research, quotation marks are important punctuation. The reality is that punctuation marks can really make a difference in whether or not you are breaking the law. After all, if you use someone’s words and don't let your readers know you are using someone else’s words, that constitutes plagiarism, which is most certainly illegal.

So, if you have doubts about this whole quotation thing, the following pages will be extremely helpful. This super-cool video can help as well.

Dialog

Quotation Marks with Dialog

You may not find yourself needing to use dialog very often in academic writing, but you may be asked to write narrative essays in some classes, which often contain dialog.

When you use dialog, it’s important to use quotation marks to set apart the speech from the rest of your text. Otherwise, separating the dialog from the rest of the writing can be very confusing for readers.

• This time, my basketball coach said, “I know you can do it.” It turned out he did not really know what he was talking about.

Quoting Sources

Quotation Marks with Quoted Material

You should use quotation marks any time you use words directly from another source. Sometimes, students think putting a citation or reference at the end “covers it,” but you must use quotation marks to indicate borrowed words.

• “Quotation marks serve primarily to tell the reader the exact words someone used” (Hope, 2010, p. 21).

If you paraphrase a source, this means you have put the information in your own words, and you don’t need to use quotation marks. You should still cite with an in-text citation, but you shouldn’t use quotation marks.

The key to borrowing information from sources is to remember that any words appearing inside quotation marks belong to someone else. Words that do not appear inside quotation marks are assumed to be yours.

Single Quotes

What are those single quotes for?

Now that you know what quotation marks are used for, you may wonder about the single quotation marks—the one that look like ‘this.’

Single quotation marks are used for quotes within quotes, as illustrated in the following example:

The article read, “When the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers was interviewed, he said he was ‘upset’ about the call that affected the game.”

You may even encounter situations where you’ll close single quotation marks and double quotation marks at the same time, leaving you with “something like ‘this.’” Don’t worry if this happens. It is correct. It just means the quote within the quote ended at the same time the main quote ended.

1.12: Quotation Marks is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.