Quotation Marks

Double quotation marks are used to signal a short direct quotation

A short direct quotation is four or fewer lines of text.

EXAMPLE: Sally asked, "When are we getting our papers back?"

Indirect discourse (someone's words quoted inexactly, and from a distance) does not require quotation marks because you mediate the quotation or frame it through your voice for readers to perceive. 

EXAMPLE: Sally asked the teacher if she could have her paper back.

Single quotation marks set off quoted material or titles of short works you wish to quote

Passage you want to quote:

Brendan remarked, "the sky is so dark I cannot see the sun."

Your quotation of that passage:

In chapter two of the book, "Brendan remarked, 'the sky is so dark I cannot see the sun.'"

Notice how you give credit to the original author of the passage by putting double quotation marks around the whole passage and also give credit to the speaker (Brendan, in this case) by putting his words in single quotation marks.

Use Explanatory Remarks to Transition into Quoted Material

Be aware that the placement of commas may change depending on where your explanatory remarks are located.


At the beginning (comma follows your explanatory remark):
Steven Watts states, "Two out of three students have difficulty with grammar skills."


At the end (comma follows the quoted material):
"Two out of three students have difficulty with grammar skills," states Steven Watts.


In the middle (commas follow the quoted material and your attributive tag):
"Two out of three students," states Steven Watts, "have difficulty with grammar skills."

When the word that introduces a direct quotation, you do not need a comma to separate your explanatory remark from the quoted material. 

EXAMPLESteven Watts states that "two out of three students have difficulty with grammar skills."

Block quotes (four or more lines of quotation) should be set off from your text and NOT put in quotiation marks

When using different documentation styles (e.g. MLA, APA, Chicago) in your paper, follow their instructions for block quotes.

For MLA documentation of a block quote: 

Double space the quotation (as you would your own text) and indent ten spaces from the left margin (keep the right margin the same as your text). Punctuate the quoted block of text as it appears in the original text.


During the press conference, Sheila Delaney commented on the water problem:

Water levels in Lakeview County have hit an all time low. These types of levels haven't been seen since the drought of 1967, when water supplies had to be carefully rationed over a six month period. If the dry conditions continue throughout July, the county supervisor will be forced to mandate limited water usage. Local residents in Fountain City and Randall won't be as hard hit as the outlying farming communities who rely on the extra water supplements to irrigate crops.

Citations after quoted materials

When quoting any source (written or spoken), you MUST give credit to that source through citations. Parenthetical citations, endnotes, or footnotes give credit within the text, and works cited or references pages at the end of your paper contain the key or index to all of the internal citations in the paper.

Citations and documentation style vary depending on your professor's preference and the subject matter. Many of the humanities courses use MLA documentation style, while the social and natural sciences prefer APA. Always check with your professor to see which style you should use.

A short direct quotation is four or fewer lines of text.

See MLA & APA documentation guides.