The rules for quotation marks vary widely from country to country, even among the English-speaking ones. Here, I will cover the rules as specified by The Chicago Manual of Style because my audience is primarily American.
- Use double quotation marks to enclose a direct quotation.
- Capitalize the first letter of a direct quotation when the quotation is a complete sentence.
- If a direct quotation is interrupted mid-sentence, do not capitalize the second part of the quotation.
“If you were in a Disney movie, there would be birds following you and singing,” she said.
“If you were in a Disney movie,” she said, “there would be birds following you and singing.”
“Stop smiling like that,” she said. “You’re scaring me.”
- Use double quotation marks to enclose titles of songs, short stories, essays, poems, and articles.
She thought she heard someone humming “Zippity Do Dah.”
- Titles of books, magazines, and newspapers are italicized or underlined. However, do not use the latter format when posting online as users will assume the title is a hyperlink.
Quotations within Quotations
- Use single quotation marks to enclose a title, direct quotation, or piece of dialogue that appears within another quotation.
“It is ‘Zippity Do Dah,'” she said.
Commas and Periods
- When a comma or period appears at the end of a quotation, put it inside the quotation mark.
She went upstairs, following the humming of ‘Zippity Do Dah .'”
Semicolons and Colons
- When a semicolon or a colon appears at the end of a quotation, put it outside the quotation mark.
The naked man said, “Come in”; she backed up, nearly tripping over her own feet.
Exclamation Points and Question Marks
- When an exclamation point or question mark appears at the end of a quotation, put it inside the quotation mark if it belongs to the quotation.
She asked, “Where are your clothes?”
- If the exclamation point or question mark does not belong to the quotation itself, put it outside the quotation mark.
Why was he naked and humming “Zippity Do Dah”?