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A Guide to Using Quotation Marks

Updated on July 17, 2013

Proper Quotation Mark Use

Knowing when and how to use quotation marks can be very tricky. This is a quick and easy guide to help you properly use quotation marks. Warning: my examples are not your standard textbook examples!

-Any time you use someone's words exactly how they said them, you will need to enclose them in quotation marks.


Mr.Krabs, a character on the popular television show, Spongbob Square Pants, made me laugh when he said, "I smell the smelly smell of something that smells smelly."

-Brief Quotations should also be quoted.


I heard her tell her boyfriend how “pathetic” his Justin Bieber obsession is.

Use Quotations to distinguish dialogue (Remember to change paragraphs with each new speaker.)


A man speaks frantically into the phone, "My wife is pregnant, and her contractions are only two minutes apart!"

"Is this her first child?" the doctor queries.

"No, you idiot!" the man shouts. "This is her husband!"

Joke Source:

Use Quotations in Titles of Short Works


Songs- “The Duck Song” by Bryant Oden

Episodes of Television Shows- “New Friends,” an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba

Newspaper Articles- “Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons” by Brian Barber

You should also use quotation marks for short stories, magazine articles, short poems, essays, speeches/lectures, short films, and episodes of radio shows.

Use Quotation Marks when using a word as a word


Sometimes I forget how to spell “Mississippi.”

Quotations can also show that a word is being used as sarcasm or irony.


Marcus graduated with honors from Harvard University. Yet, the “genius”, walked into a wall today.

Now that you know how to use quotation marks, it is important to know how to use them.

-Periods and commas are placed inside quotation marks. There is an exception to this rule if you are using MLA or APA formats. In these formats, the period follows the closing parentheses following a citation.

- Colons and semicolons should be placed outside closing quotation marks.

- If you are using a question mark or explanation mark that belongs to the original quote, it should be placed inside the quotation mark. If the mark goes with an entire sentence, put it outside the closing quotation mark.

Quotation Mark Quiz

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    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      Where were you when I was in grade school? :) Argh, I struggled with quotes! My mistakes used to annoy my English teacher a lot - LOL! Voting this easy-to-understand hub useful as it is.

    • Amber522 profile image

      Amber522 5 years ago

      Thank you very much. I appreciate the feedback.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much for an anything-but-dry look at using quotation marks.