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Skidmore College
The Skidmore Guide to Writing

Punctuation with Quotations

The basic rule is this: commas and periods go inside quotation marks; semicolons and colons go outside of quotation marks. (If you are reading a source printed in the United Kingdom or Canada, you'll see commas and periods outside of quotation marks. Nevertheless, you need to learn and to use American conventions.)

If the quotation you are using in the sentence is a question, the question mark goes before the second quotation mark:

             During the meeting Matt asked, "When can we leave?"

If the sentence itself in a question, the question mark goes after the second quotation mark:

             What do you think Matt meant when he said, "I want to leave"?

If you intend to cite the quotation you are using, then the period will go after the parenthesis:

             "To be or not to be" (Hamlet V165).

If you are not citing the quotation, you must put the period before the second quotation mark:

             Gabby told Becky, "Please don't eat all the muffins."

Capitalizing with quotations

Do not capitalize quoted speech when the first quoted word does not begin the sentence you are quoting.

             Lisa was talking about how much she liked LS, "especially when Professor Solomon is giving the lecture."

When the quotation follows the word "that," do not use a comma, and do not capitalize the first letter of the quotation.

             Professor Smith told the class that "knowing how to do research is a valuable skill."

Click here to read more about with quotations in the context of correct grammar.

Click here to read more about quotations.