Punctuation: Quotation Marks

Double quotation marks are used for direct quotations and titles of compositions such as books, plays, movies, songs, lectures and TV shows. They also can be used to indicate irony and introduce an unfamiliar term or nickname.

Single quotation marks are used for a quote within a quote. ("I knew I wanted to come to WMU when President Dunn said, 'We're committed to your success.'") Although they are usually unnecessary, single quotation marks also can be used in headlines that contain a quote or composition title.

Do not place in quotation marks: names of newspapers, magazines, central texts of a religion (Bible, Koran), dictionaries, handbooks and reference books. Names of concertos, operas, overtures, sonatas, suites and symphonies, such as Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, are not placed in quotes, but if the work also has a title, the title is placed in quotes. (Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique.")

Do not place in quotation marks names of events (tailgate party, retirement reception), even if it is a unique event with a proper name (Bronco Bash). The title of a lecture is placed in quotes, the name of a lecture series is not (Sichel Lecture Series).

Running quotations: If a full paragraph of quoted material is followed by a paragraph that continues the quotation, do not use closing quotation marks at the end of the first paragraph, but do use opening quotation marks at the start the second paragraph. Continue this pattern, using closing quotation marks only at the very end of the quoted material.

Placement with other punctuation: A period or comma always go inside closing quotation marks. ("We hope to win the game," he said.) A dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go inside closing quotation marks when the punctuation applies to the quotation itself and outside when it applies to the whole sentence.

Who said "Ask not what your country can do for you"?
He asked, "What time is it?"