Words that are quoted or being used in a special way are enclosed in quotation marks (“ “). Quotation marks are always used in pairs; you must have quotation marks at the beginning and at the end of quoted material. When opening quotation marks are placed at the beginning of a quote, the closing quotation marks are not added until the speaker changes or the quotation is interrupted. In word processing, use curved or "smart" quotes, rather than straight quotes, which indicate inches.

  1. Enclose a direct quotation

    Use quotation marks to enclose a direct quotation (the exact words spoken by someone).
    • Robert (2017) said, "I will not be home on time" (p. 1).
      • Note: Block quotes (more 40 words long) are usually written without quotation marks and are indented from the left margin. If a long direct quotation spans more than one paragraph, place quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph and at the end of only the last paragraph.
  2. Unusual, unfamiliar, or slang terms

    Use quotation marks around unusual, unfamiliar, or slang terms, or to indicate that words are being used in a special way. No quotation marks are necessary in later references after the term has been introduced the first time.
    • He thought he was distinguished; I thought he was a "stuffed shirt."
    • We call the invention a "windoor" because it is both a window and a door.
  3. Double quotation marks

    Use double quotation marks for titles of essays, lectures, songs, short poems, short stories, and episodes of a television or radio program.  Do not use quotation marks, however, around the title of your own paper. Use them only if you refer to the paper in another document.
    • Celine Dion sang "My Heart Will Go On."
    • The keynote speaker's address was entitled "How to Live With Stress."
  4. After an introductory verb

    After an introductory verb, use a comma and capitalize the first word of a complete sentence being quoted.
    • Peggy announced, "The party will start at noon."
  5. Set off the quotation

    Set off the quotation from the rest of the sentence with a comma. Do not use a comma if the quotation is already set off with a question mark or an exclamation mark. If information preceding the quotation is a complete sentence, however, separate the information from the quotation with a colon (see Rule #6).
    • "When will I have the computer class?" he asked.
    • "Please bring coffee," Jennifer said.
  6. After a complete sentence

    After a complete sentence, use a colon and begin the quotation with a capital letter.
    • The instructor said all courses are scheduled in advance: "Our calendar is set one month before classes begin."
  7. When the quote is woven

    When the quoted material is woven into a sentence, do not use any punctuation except the quotation marks.
    • The instructor indicated she was "making every effort" to give employees up–to–date training.
  8. Periods and commas

    Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks (even if they are not in the original quotation).  When documenting the source of a quotation, place the period after the citation; do not include it as part of the quotation.
    • Berg's study stated, "The city is growing quickly" (p. 15).
    • My grandfather used to say, "Every dog has its day."
  9. Semicolons and colons

    Semicolons and colons always go outside quotation marks.
    • Kelly Sole told me, "I will be unable to attend the meeting"; however, she stopped by for a minute.
  10. Question marks and exclamation marks

    Question marks and exclamation marks go inside quotation marks only if the material inside the quotation marks is a question or an exclamation.  If the entire sentence is a question or an exclamation, the question mark or exclamation mark goes outside the quotation marks. If you have a question both inside and outside the quoted material, place the question mark inside the quotation marks.
    • Gloria asked, "Where are you going?"
    • Did Gloria say, "I don't know where I'm going"?
    • Did Gloria ask, "Where are you going?"
  11. At the end of a sentence

    If the quotation is at the end of a sentence, the question mark or exclamation mark serves as punctuation to end the sentence. Do not add a period.
    • CORRECT: Jorge inquired, "How late can nominations be submitted for approval?"
    • INCORRECT: Jorge inquired, "How late can nominations be submitted for approval?."
    • INCORRECT: Jorge inquired, “How late can nominations be submitted for approval?”.
  12. Quote within another quote

    Use single quotation marks for a quote within another quote.
    • The newspaper stated, "According to the attorney, 'No plea bargain will be considered' in the case."