The placement of quotation marks perplexes people. Do they go inside or outside of other punctuation marks, like periods and commas? Should they be used to set off titles or to emphasize certain words?
Quotation marks are used for a variety of purposes, including dialogue, quotes, and titles. Many people also use quotation marks to emphasize words and phrases.
One of the most common questions about quotation marks deals with their usage with titles. Are quotation marks appropriate for setting off the title of a book or is it better to use italics, underlining, or some other punctuation mark or formatting?
Quotation Marks and Dialogue
She said, “I’m writing a book.”
“I’m working on it, ” she whispered, “but it’s going to take awhile.”
Then she asked, “Are you going to write one too?”
When using quotation marks to portray dialogue, the quotes go outside of the dialogue’s punctuation. Also, dialogue is almost always preceded by a comma (i.e. she said, “something”). In formal documents, the comma may be replaced by a colon (i.e. she said: this is what she said). The dialogue itself should follow the rules of grammar, with the first letter of sentences capitalized, and the appropriate terminal punctuation makrs (period, question mark, etc.) as well.
Using Quotes for Emphasis
I was wondering if her “book” was going to be any good.
Should you use quotes for emphasis? No. Absolutely not. It’s an amateur maneuver, and you can only get away with it successfully if you’re a master of punctuation marks. Don’t use quotation marks in this manner. If you must emphasize a word, use italics or bold. Better yet, let the way you structure your sentence provide natural emphasis where needed. Never use quotes to emphasize words and phrases. Repeat that three times, then rinse.
Setting Off Titles with Quotation Marks
Most titles should be italicized. But in some cases quotation marks are more appropriate, particularly when using a combination of titles from a single publication, e.g., a magazine title plus article titles or a book title plus chapter titles.
You might also like:
Carleton's Hand-Book of Popular Quotations. a Book of Ready Reference for Such Familiar Words, Phrases and Expressions as Are Oftenest Quoted and Met with in General Literature; Together with Their Authorship and Position in the Original. Also, a Carefull (Paperback) - Common
Book (Nabu Press)