Using Quotation Marks for Writing an Essay

Functions:

  • Set off and represent exact language that has come from somebody else
  • Designate speech acts in fiction and sometimes poetry.
  • Act as a practical defense against accidental plagiarism

***Never leave a quotation alone in a sentence***

How to Properly Punctuate Quotations:

1) Leading into the quote with a colon announces that the quote that follows will provide evidence for that sentence’s claim. A colon comes after a complete independent clause.

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression: “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

2) Introducing the quote with a comma indicates that you are attributing it to a speaker.  In these cases, the quotation part of the independent clause.

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression.  He states, “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

3) Fragments – Use no punctuation if you slip the quotation correctly into the grammar of the rest of the sentence.

According to Professor Jones, Lincoln “feared the spread of slavery,” but many of his aides advised him to “watch and wait.”

4) Keep periods and commas within quotation marks.

According to Professor Jones, Lincoln “feared the spread of slavery,” but many of his aides advised him to “watch and wait.”

In the above example, both the comma and period were enclosed in the quotation marks.

The main exception to this rule involves the use of internal citations, which always precede the last period of the sentence. For example:

According to Professor Jones, Lincoln “feared the spread of slavery,” but many of his aides advised him to “watch and wait” (Jones 143).

5) Place all other punctuation marks (colons, semicolons, exclamation marks, question marks) outside the quotation marks, except when they were part of the original quotation.

1) The student wrote that the U. S. Civil War “finally ended around 1900″!

2) The coach yelled, “Run!”

In the first example, the author placed the exclamation point outside the quotation mark because she added it herself to emphasize the absurdity of the student’s comment. The student’s original comment had not included an exclamation mark. In the second example, the exclamation mark remains within the quotation mark because it is indicating the excited tone in which the coach yelled the command. Thus, the exclamation mark is considered to be part of the original quotation.