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chapter 6.9 Capitalization and Punctuation: Quotation

Quotation marks identify the exact words of a speaker.
Sheba was whispering, "Not that way; turn left."
"I know what I'm doing," Joan snapped.
Do not use quotation marks simply for emphasis; that's what underlining is for:

This is your laundromat; please keep it clean.


This is "your" laundromat; please keep it "clean."

Quotation marks identify the title of a story, poem, or other short work.

The first-person point of view in "The Lesson" blends humor with social commentary. The narration is entirely different in "Guests of the Nation."

The title of a long work (such as a book or movie or play) should be writiten in italics.
The title of a part (such as a story or a chapter or an article in a journal) should be in quotation marks:

Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Fonda starred in Julia, the movie based on "Julia," a chapter in Pentimento, Lilian Hellman's autobiography.

If you are using a typewriter that is not capable of creating italicized type or if you are writing by hand, underline what would otherwise appear in italics.

Julia (in publication or word-processing) = Julia (handwritten or using an old-fashioned typewriter)
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We do not use quotation marks to set off language in the form of "indirect" or "reported" speech.

  • The teacher said, "Take care of your computer diskette." (The words in quotation marks are direct speech, the exact words that someone spoke.)
  • The teacher told him to take care of his computer diskette. (The teacher's exact words are not included here, so this is indirect or reported speech, and needs no quotation marks.
Click here for a one-page chart on the uses of reported speech.

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