know that in dialogue, you start a new paragraph for each new
speaker, and that a long-winded speaker who insists on talking in
more than one paragraph doesn’t get an end quote until he’s
“Really?” she asked.
“Yes, really. And that’s not all. After she said that, she turned
and spat at him. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. And the
things they said to each other in front of that that poor child. It
was dreadful. I rose to leave, but they insisted I remain.
“Fortunately someone rang the doorbell, and I rushed to answer it.”
Writers also know that there must be single quotes around quotations
“I just love Roethke’s poem, ‘My Papa’s Waltz.’”
Some writers tend to argue over where the punctuation is placed with
quotation marks. The American style says that all commas and periods
go within the final quote. Always. The British put them inside or
out, depending on whether they consider the quotation the end of the
sentence or the end of the quote.
American: Go out the door marked “Private.”
British: Go out the door marked “Private”.
Those are the easy rules, but the use of quotation marks for
emphasis when they are not required is a dangerous trend currently.
Bethany Keely has turned her delightful blog, the “blog” of
“unnecessary” quotes, into an absolutely hilarious book. People
send her pictures of outrageous quotation usage, such as, “Jesus”
saves, “Fresh” fish, or her latest sample:
also have other
stop laughing, you will realize that quotation marks don’t work for
emphasis, and they don’t belong around familiar colloquial
expressions or nouns, as in “We need to hire a temp,” or “They went
belly-up.” They are familiar; they don’t need to be quoted.
You might be tempted to use quotes to signal irony or humor (Well,
that was “fun.”) when you fear your reader won’t get your meaning.
For people whose sense of humor you’re not sure of, it’s best not
to attempt subtleties. The “trick” is to “save” quotation marks for
when they are “necessary.”