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How to Use Quotation Marks

Quotation marks (“example”) are used to set off words from other parts of the sentence. Quotation marks always appear in pairs, and often with other punctuation marks. They are used to indicate people speaking, material taken word for word from sources, special uses of a word, and titles of short texts.

Direct Quotations

When you cite directly from a source or report the actual words someone said, you need quotation marks.

For example:

“I’ll never understand punctuation!” the exasperated student exclaimed.

According to Paul Cody, “The quotation mark distinguishes between what’s thought and said” (139).

Special uses of a word

Quotation marks can be used around slang, technical jargon, and neologisms (new words like “tweet” or “hashtag”) that aren’t commonly used in writing.

For example:

The winner was so excited he “snap-chatted” his photos immediately.

Quotation marks can be used to show a word is meant to be ironic.

For example:

Writers must pay attention to all “minor details” including punctuation, spelling, and grammar.

Quotation marks can be used to show that a word itself is being used as an example.

For example:

People often confuse the word “site” for the word “cite.”

Titles of Short Texts

You use quotation marks to set-off the titles of poems, short stories, magazine and journal articles, essays, and songs are placed.

For example:

In their article “Frequency of Formal Errors in Current College Writing,” Connors and Lunsford examine types of grammatical errors that appear in the writing of college students.

Poe wrote “The Raven.”

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