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C enter for A cademic E xcellence SmartSlides. Understanding Quotation Marks. How, Where, When, Why. Quotation marks are used to show: Direct speech Direct quotations Titles Words not used in their actual sense. Direct Speech:

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Understanding Quotation Marks

How, Where, When, Why


Quotation marks are used to show:

Direct speech

Direct quotations


Words not used in their actual sense


Direct Speech:

  • Use double quotation marks to identify direct speech. Direct speech means the exact words uttered by a speaker.
    • Joseph said, “Where are my shoes?”
    • “Where,” said Joseph, “are my shoes?”
    • “Where are my shoes?” said Joseph.

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Direct Speech, contd:

Please take note of how commas and other punctuation marks are used in conjunction with quotation marks.

You will notice that in most instances, the punctuation mark comes before the quotation mark.

Indirect speech does not require quotation marks:

Joseph asked where his shoes were.

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Direct Speech, contd:

It is important to remember, when writing conversation, that there is a new paragraph every time there is a new speaker:

“Hello, Jim. How are you?” asked Todd.

“I’m very well,” said Todd. “How are you?”

“I’m fine. And all the better for seeing you,” Jim said.

“You’re just saying that,” said Todd. “Flattery will get you nowhere.”

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Direct Speech, contd:

When a speaker makes a lengthy speech, requiring more than a single paragraph, open each new paragraph with quotation marks, but do not use any closing quotation marks until the end of what he (or she) has to say:

“I went to the mall the other day,” said John. “It was terribly crowded and I felt quite agitated. I don’t usually go to the mall at Christmas and Thanksgiving, precisely because I hate dealing with crowds.

“I couldn’t understand why the place was so packed, until my son told me that Tim Tebow was there promoting Nike’s latest athletic shoe and signing autographs.”

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Direct Quotations:

Use double quotation marks to identify direct quotations. Direct quotations are words drawn directly from a text or other source. In research papers, they are generally preceded by a signal phrase and followed by parenthetic documentation.

Notice that direct speech and direct quotations are introduced with a comma, except after the word “that.”

According to the Bible, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Luther dismissed the value of learning when he said that “I do not know how to earn the grace and favor of the super-intelligent. I have often sought to do so with the greatest pains, but from now on I neither desire nor value their favor” (Christian Nobility 3).

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  • Use quotation marks to show the titles of minor works:
  • The children were singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.”
  • She wrote an article titled “Post-Modern Poets.”
  • Robert Frost wrote “The Road Not Taken.”
  • My girlfriend likes watching “Pretty Little Liars.”
  • Put quotation marks around the titles of songs, poems, articles, chapters, short stories, television serials, etc.

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Single Quotation Marks:

  • Single quotation marks are not generally used, except when they are within double quotation marks. If you are copying a direct quotation, remember to change the double quotation marks into single ones.
    • “John said to me, ‘Where are you going?’”
    • “We are all going to sing ‘Old Macdonald Had a Farm.’ How many of you know the words?” said Ms. Teague.
    • According to the Norton Anthology of American Literature, James Baldwin “met Richard Wright in 1944, at that time ‘the greatest black writer in the world for me,’ in whose early books Baldwin ‘found expressed, for the first time in my life, the sorrows, the rage, and the murderous bitterness which was eating up my life and the lives of those about me.’”

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Words Not Used in Their Actual Sense:

  • Put quotation marks around words not used in their actual sense when it is appropriate to do so:
  • He gave his fiancéea “diamond” ring.
  • The “ghost” that leapt out at her was just my brother wrapped in a sheet.
  • The woman said that she was his “wife.”

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The “End”

PowerPoint Presentation by Mark A. Spalding, BA, MEd, MA (2012).