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What are quotation marks?

One of the primary jobs of quotation marks is to set off exact spoken or written language. When writers use quotation marks correctly, they give credit to the original author and avoid plagiarism. Quotation marks are also used to enclose titles of short works and always appear in pairs.

When and how should quotation marks be used?

Quotation marks should be used to enclose the following:

  • Direct quotations from textual, audio, and video sources
    • Dickens informed his readers that “Oliver cried lustily” (17). [1]
  • Spoken dialogue
    • “Two keys to successful public speaking,” said the CEO, “are to connect with the audience immediately and then hold their attention with captivating content.”
  • Titles of short works (such as articles, chapters, essays, short stories, poems, and songs)
    • “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Raven,” “Amazing Grace”
  • To enclose a quotation within a quotation, use single quotation marks.
    • As he walked alongside Mr. Bumble, Oliver had a habit of “inquiring at the end of every quarter of a mile whether they were ‘nearly there’” (Dickens 22).

Avoid misuse of quotation marks

  • Place the closing quotation mark after the last word of a direct quotation, not after the parenthetical reference.
  • Do not enclose the title of your own paper in quotation marks (unless it appears in another document).
  • Do not use quotation marks around a quotation of four or more lines; use a block quotation instead.
  • Do not use quotation marks around indirect quotations, clichés, or for simple emphasis.

[1] Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Garden City, NY: Nelson Doubleday, Inc., 1960. Print.