San Jose City College

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   How to Use Quotation Marks

 Use quotation marks...                                                                            Need a Dictionary? [Open][Close]

1. to signal the exact words of a speaker or writer
About her captivity, Jill Carroll wrote that "every second was a test--the choice of food, TV program, everything--and they would kill me if I gave the wrong answer."
2. to quote within a quote, using single quotation marks.
Jill's grandparents were Catholic and went to Mass every day. She would think about them and figure out the time of day and think, "I bet they're praying for me right now. I bet they're saying, 'Let's pray for our granddaughter, Jill Carroll.' "
3. to refer to titles of short works: magazine or newspaper articles, book chapters, essays, poems, or songs
The story about Jill Carroll, "Ex-captive tells of Iraq ordeal," appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on August 14, 2006.
Note 1: Titles of longer works--books, magazines, newspapers, movies, TV programs, and CDs--are either underlined or italicized. Do not underline, italicize, or put quotation marks around the title of sacred books, for example, the Bible and the Koran.
The Christian Science Monitor has documented Jill's story in an eleven-part series.
Note 2: Periods and commas always go inside the quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation marks go inside the quotation marks if they belong to the direct quotation.
While flipping through the channels, Jill asked herself, "How do you channel surf with the mujahedeen?"

If the question mark or exclamation point is part of your own sentence--not part of the direct quotation-- put them outside the quotation mark.
What was Abu Nour thinking when he said, "I can go out, plant my bomb, and go back and have a homemade dinner with my wife"?

How shocking it is that a man can boast, "I can go out, plant my bomb, and go back and have a homemade dinner with my wife"!

Note 3: Always put colons and semicolons outside closing quotation marks.

For more on punctuation with quotations, click here. Click the back arrow to return.

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