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Punctuation in Dialogue

December 8, 2010 by Fiction Editor Beth Hill
last modified December 12, 2012

punctuation graphicDialogue has its own rules for punctuation. Commas go in particular places, as do terminal marks such as periods and question marks.

Only what is spoken is within the quotation marks. Other parts of the same sentence—dialogue tags and action or thought—go outside the quotation marks.

Dialogue begins with a capitalized word, no matter where in the sentence it begins. (Interrupted dialogue, when it resumes, is not capped.)

Only direct dialogue requires quotation marks. Direct dialogue is someone speaking. Indirect dialogue is a report that someone spoke. The word that is implied in the example of indirect dialogue.

Direct: “She was a bore,” he said.

Indirect: He said [that] she was a bore.

Here are some of the rules, with examples.

Single line of dialogue, no dialogue tag
The entire sentence, including the period (or question mark or exclamation point) is within the quotation marks.

“He loved you.”

Single line with dialogue tag (attribution) following
The dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks. A comma follows the dialogue and comes before the closing quotation mark. A period ends the sentence. Punctuation serves to separate the spoken words from other parts of the sentence.

Because the dialogue tag—she said—is part of the same sentence, it is not capped.

“He loved you,” she said.

Single line with dialogue tag first
The comma still separates the dialogue tag from the spoken words, but it is outside the quotation marks, and the period is inside the quotation marks.

She said, “He loved you.”

Single line of dialogue with dialogue tag and action
The dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks. A comma follows the dialogue and comes before the closing quotation mark. The dialogue tag is next and the action follows the tag—no capital letter because this is part of the same sentence—with a period to end the sentence.

“He loved you,” she said, hoping Sue didn’t hear her.

The action and dialogue tag can also come first.

Leaning away, she said, “He loved you.”

Dialogue interrupted by dialogue tag
Dialogue can be interrupted by a tag and then resume in the same sentence. Commas go inside the first set of quotation marks and after the dialogue tag (or action).

“He loved you,” she said, “but you didn’t care.”

“He loved you,” she said, hoping to provoke a reaction, “but you didn’t care.”

Separating this into two sentences also works. The first sentence will end with a period and the second will begin with a capital letter.

“He loved you,” she said, hoping to provoke a reaction. “But you didn’t care.”

Questions in dialogue, no dialogue tag
Question mark is inside the quotation marks.

Use this same construction for the exclamation point.

“He loved you?”

“He loved you!”

Questions in dialogue, with dialogue tag
Question mark is inside quotation marks. There is no comma. The tag doesn’t begin with a cap since it’s part of the same sentence, even though there’s a question mark in the middle of the sentence.

Use this same construction for the exclamation point.

“He loved you?” she asked, the loathing clear in her voice and posture.

“He loved you!” she said, pointing a finger at Sally.

Dialogue interrupted by action or thought but no dialogue tag
Characters can pause in their words to do something and then resume the dialogue. If there is no dialogue tag, special punctuation is required to set off the action or thought.

Enclose the first part of the dialogue in quotation marks but omit the comma. Follow the end quotation mark with an em dash and the action or thought and then another em dash. Resume the dialogue with another opening quotation mark, complete the dialogue, and end with a period and a closing quotation mark. There are no spaces between the quotation marks and the dashes or between the dashes and the action/thought.

Thus the spoken words are within quotation marks and the action or thought is set off by the dashes.

“He loved you”—she pounded the wall with a heavy fist—“but you never cared.”

“He loved you”—at least she thought he had—“but you never cared.”

Compare this to a similar construction without dialogue:

He’d forgotten all about me—my heart ached at the thought—but I’d never forgotten him.

Quote within dialogue
A character may be speaking and also quoting what someone else has said. Punctuation is necessary to indicate the difference between what the character is quoting and what are his own words.

The entirety of what a character says is enclosed by double quotation marks. The part the character is quoting from another person is enclosed by single quotation marks.

When single and double quotation marks are side by side, put a space between them.

“He said, and I quote, ‘The mailman loves you.’ ”

“He said, ‘The mailman loves you.’ I heard it with my own ears.”

Indirect dialogue for the inner quote would also work.

“He said the mailman loves you. I heard it with my own ears.”

Direct and indirect dialogue emphasize different elements of the sentence, so choose the one that works best for what you want to convey.

Dialogue abruptly cut off
When dialogue is cut off—the character is being choked or something suddenly diverts his attention or another character interrupts him—use an em dash before the closing quotation mark. Dialogue can be interrupted mid-word or at the end of a word. Consider the sounds of words and syllables before deciding where to break the interrupted word: you wouldn’t break the word there after the T (t—), because the first sound comes from the combined th (th—).

“He loved y—“

Dialogue abruptly cut off by another speaker
When a second speaker interrupts the first, use the em dash where the first speaker’s words are interrupted and again where they resume.

“He loved you—”

“As if I could believe that.”

“—for such a long, long time.”

Dialogue that trails off
When dialogue trails off—the character has lost his train of thought or doesn’t know what to say—use the ellipsis.

“He loved you . . .” A long, long time ago, she thought.

Names in dialogue
Always use a comma before and/or after the name when addressing someone directly in dialogue (even if the name isn’t a proper name).

“He loved you, Emma.”

“Emma, he loved you.”

“He loved you, honey.”

“He loved you, Emma, more than he loved Sally.”

Multiple lines of dialogue
For a paragraph with several sentences of dialogue, put the dialogue tag, if you use one, at the end of the first sentence. The tags are for readers, to keep track of the speaker. A tag lost in the middle or hiding at the end of the paragraph doesn’t help the reader at the top of the paragraph.

This is not an absolute rule, of course. Sometimes the feel or rhythm requires a different construction. But you can use this rule to keep your readers on track. If a group of guys is talking, the reader might guess who is speaking, but there’s nothing wrong with helping out the reader.

“I wanted to know if James had planned to go to the game. He wasn’t sure, said he had to ask his wife. Thank God I don’t have to ask permission of a wife. None of that ball and chain stuff for me, no sir. I can go where I want, when I want. Yep, freedom,” Maxwell said. “Nothing beats freedom.”

“I wanted to know if James had planned to go to the game,” Maxwell said. “He wasn’t sure, said he had to ask his wife. Thank God I don’t have to ask permission of a wife. None of that ball and chain stuff for me, no sir. I can go where I want, when I want. Yep, freedom. Nothing beats freedom.”

Multiple paragraphs of dialogue
Dialogue may stretch across paragraphs without pause. To punctuate, put a terminal punctuation—period, question mark, or exclamation point— at the end of the first paragraph. There is no closing quotation mark at the end of this paragraph.

Begin the next paragraph with an opening quotation mark.

Follow this pattern for as long as the dialogue and paragraphs continue. At the last paragraph, use a closing quotation mark at the end of the dialogue.

“He was my best friend. I told you that, didn’t I? And then he stabbed me in the back. Stole my wife and my future. I hated him for that. Still do. Hate him bad.

“But he’s been punished, yes he has. He went to jail for embezzling thousands. Not even millions. Just thousands. Serves him right, the petty crook. He’s just a petty man.”

Changing Speakers
Begin a new paragraph each time the speaker changes.

She looked up at the man hovering over her. “I’d wanted to tell you for years. I just didn’t know what to say.”

“We’ve been married for thirty-four years, Alice. You couldn’t find a way, in thirty-four years of living together and seeing each other sixteen hours a day, to tell me you were already married?”

“I’m sorry.”

Exception. There are reasons having to do with style when you could limit a back-and-forth dialogue between characters to a single paragraph, but each speaker’s sentences would need to be brief and you wouldn’t want the paragraph to go on for too long. Keep in mind your readers’ expectations—they expect to find only one character’s words in a paragraph.

Mixing dialogue with narration in the same paragraph
Dialogue and narration can be placed into the same paragraph. If the narration refers to a single character or is in the point of view of only one character, simply add the dialogue. Dialogue can go at the beginning, the middle, or the end of the paragraph and the narration.

If the narration refers to several characters or you can’t tell which character is the focus of the paragraph, begin the dialogue with a new paragraph and a dialogue tag. That is, don’t make the reader guess who is speaking.

If the paragraph opens with a wide view of a group of people but then the focus narrows to a single character, you could introduce that character’s dialogue into the end of that same paragraph. Or, you could begin a new paragraph with the dialogue. The key is to keep the reader in the flow of the story. Confusion over dialogue will pull the reader out of the fictional world.

Rachael was a beautiful woman; she’d been told so since the day she turned sixteen. And at forty-two, she decided she was just entering her prime. She stared at herself in the mirror, patted her hair, and grinned at the man watching her reflection with her. “I still got it, don’t I, baby?”

He reached for her bare shoulders. “And I love every inch of the it you’ve got.”

Rachael was a beautiful woman; she’d been told so since the day she turned sixteen. At forty-two, she was determined to see herself as the ingenue. Carl wanted to tell her she was now more femme fatale than ingenue. And that was all right by him.

“I still got it, don’t I, baby?” she asked his reflection.

“More than ever, honey.”

Rachael was a beautiful woman; she’d been told so since the day she turned sixteen. At forty-two, she was determined to see herself as the ingenue. “You’re stunning, sweetheart,” Carl said, pausing by the dressing table.  He wanted to tell her she was now more femme fatale than ingenue, that she turned him on more than she had as a younger version of herself. But Rachael was not only beautiful. She was touchy. And being reminded of her age wouldn’t keep her happy.

Carl was all about keeping Rachael happy.

“Simply stunning,” he said again

*******

Attributions can come before the dialogue, especially if you want the dialogue tag to be noticed. To hide them, put them at the middle or end of sentences. You will typically—but not always—want the dialogue and not the attribution to stand out.

*******

A reader asked a few questions about this topic that are answered in the article, More Punctuation in Dialogue.

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Tags: , ,     Posted in: Grammar & Punctuation

126 Responses to “Punctuation in Dialogue”

  1. Kitty says:

    This has really helped me. See, I’m working on a book, and there was a lot of questions that have been bugging me about what I do after dialogue. So, thank you!

    • In the section title “Dialogue interrupted by action or thought but no dialogue tag,” you made this comment: * The quotation marks before but in both sentences should curl the other way. I’ve been unable to edit this to make them go the correct way. If you would have made a space after the dash, it would have gone the right way, and then you’d have to go back and eliminate the space. I see this problem with slang dialogue too. Like a character says ’cause instead of because. The apostrophe is curling the wrong direction. So what I do is type b’cause and the go back and delete the b. It’s a hassle, but at least the punctuation mark is curling the correct way.

  2. Glad to be of help.

    I’m always looking for new topics, so if there’s something you’d like to see covered, please let me know. Or, if there’s anything I left out of this article on punctuation in dialogue and you have a question, please feel free to ask.

    • Okay, I am writing a novel and I have been reading Dorris Lessing and Henry Miller. Both use multiple characters with dialogue in the same paragraph. Lessing often introduces them with a Semi-colon. I very much like what they are doing, but I don’t feel confident about my choices to do that in my own writing. And now I have this problem. I am writing some paragraphs in which a person is overhearing or taking in remarks from others. If I give them all a paragraph it feels like it gives them too much importance and makes them kind of stronger characters in the story. But I don’t want them in the story, they are a crowd of people, and I want the character to feel the general sentiment of the crowd.

      He sat on the rooftop listening to them speak to the police. “He went that way,” the girl said. “He was fat,” another stated. “And ugly,” said another. “It was the most awful thing in the world.” “You should kill him.”

      Anyway, this is just an example. Could you talk about both of these situations.

  3. Vivian A says:

    Thanks for the clarifications, Beth. I need reminders every so often and your articles are a great resource. Honestly, punctuation tends to be my wild west category while writing. Sometimes things are just fine and then, BAM! Commas usual lead the rebellion popping up in all sorts of places.

  4. Vivian, I love the image of commas leading a rebellion. They do have minds of their own.

  5. Jesse says:

    Afternoon!

    I’m presently wrtining my tenth full-length novel, and while I’ve sometimes overruled dubious grammar ‘rules’ in my previous nine, I have been unable to find an authoritative source for the following query, which involes putting a comma after ‘and.’ For example:

    “Where’s the nearest airport, Nate?
    “Nantes, and I think it’s roughly an eighty-five-mile drive from Saumur.”

    Every grammar book, as well as Microsoft Word, tells me that I may not put a comma after ‘Nantes’ and before ‘and.’ I disagree, and while I could reword the sentence, I don’t want to because it’s only an example of one of many that cannot be reworded to my satisfaction.

    What’s your opinon?

    Thank you in advance for your time and attention.

    Jesse.

    • Jesse says:

      P.S.
      Please excuse my spelling errors. I’m in-between computers at the moment (sticky keys) and have vision problems too, and the text in your reply box is a little too small for me to see properly. – Jess.

  6. Jesse says:

    Afternoon again!

    Another American English query, if you wouldn’t mind (it is not my first language).

    Again, in dialogue, another ‘rule’ than confuses me is demonstrated in the following sentence(s).

    “Why not leave it on the counter? You know you’ll only want it later.”
    vs.
    “Why not leave it on the counter? you know you’ll only want it later.”

    I’ve seen similarly structured sentences in what one would normally consider classic novels – both ways. What’s your take on this?

    Also (might as well get it over with), why must I put a semicolon where I’m about to?

    “Why not leave it on the counter, Bob; you know you’ll only want it later?”

    In the first place, I dislike semicolons, especially in dialogue, and feel that a comma after Bob’s name should suffice. I don’t want two short, choppy sentences when I can have one.

    TIA – Jesse.

  7. Hi, Jesse. Congrats on being on the 10th novel. That’s a milestone worth celebrating.

    Let’s look at your questions.

    For the first, there’s nothing wrong with a comma after Nantes. Yet, because it’s a single word answer followed by a longer independent clause, I’d consider using a period instead. A period is a stronger separator and would frame the answer to the question—Nantes—before the speaker adds more information. “Nantes. And I think it’s roughly a…” For impact, let Nantes stand alone as the answer to the question. But there’s nothing wrong with the comma as the sentence is written. It would be wrong without a comma.

    Questions two and three—If you use the question mark as you have, it’s a terminal punctuation point. What comes after it begins a new sentence, so that new sentence begins with a capital letter. (An exception to the capital letter after a question mark comes with dialogue followed by a dialogue tag. “How old are you?” she asked.). As for reading such a construction in the classics, consider when they were written. We definitely have different rules for modern writers. But two sentences? Two capital letters.

    “Why not leave it on the counter? You know you’ll only want it later.” is correct. (Question mark, two sentences, capital letter)

    “Why not leave it on the counter; you know you’ll only want it later.” is also correct. (Semi-colon, two independent clauses, no capital letter, no question mark)

    “Why not leave it on the counter, Bob? You know you’ll only want it later.” is correct as well.

    “Why not leave it on the counter, Bob; you know you’ll only want it later.” is another correct one. (no question mark at the end because that last clause is not a question)

    But, “Why not leave it on the counter, Bob, you know you’ll only want it later.” is a comma splice. Two independent clauses need a separator stronger than a simple comma. The semi-colon alerts the reader that what follows is a related clause, but one that could stand on its own as a sentence.

    The rule is, you can’t separate/join two sentences with only a comma. You need a period or a semi-colon or a dash. Or, you use a coordinating conjunction with a comma. Or, you reword the sentence so that one of the independent clauses becomes a dependent one.

    None of the coordinating conjunctions really work here, though you could make a case for for. But you could change one of the clauses to a dependent one—“Since you’ll only want it later, Bob, why not leave it on the counter?”

    Also, in this sentence, if you used only commas, the reader would have trouble knowing which clause Bob belonged with. The reader would have to stop to figure out the meaning. And you don’t want to confuse the reader.

    Does that help?

  8. Wow, that was longer than I thought. Sorry, Jesse. I’ll look into the size of the text and the size of the reply box. I’m sure I can make both larger.

    • Jesse says:

      Afternoon Beth!

      Thank you so much for your prompt response, and yes,it is helpful. I’m particularly surprised to learn that one does not require a question mark in this sentence:

      “Why not leave it on the counter; you know you’ll only want it later.” is also correct. (Semi-colon, two independent clauses, no capital letter, no question mark.)

      I didn’t know that. I thank the Good Lord that most people read at a seventh-grade level and my occasional departures from grammar ‘laws’ have not impeded the sales of my novels!

      I love what you’ve done with your comment box (regarding text size), we’re not all twenty-one anymore and a larger text size makes it simpler for those of us who’ve achieved ‘Grandma’ status to see what we’re saying. (All the better to see you with, my dear, and all that, LOL!) It was kind of you to make the change, so again, thanks a lot.

      As an aside, I prefer not to begin too many sentences with ‘And’ or ‘But’ (hence the comma after Nantes), although I do use them both as a tool when I want to emphasize something.

      I like your blog, Beth, and if I’m spared, I’ve no doubt that I’ll be back.

      Have a spectacular day, and Godbless.

      Jesse.

  9. Jesse, I look forward to seeing you any time you visit.

    I suggested no question mark on the end of that one sentence—Why not leave it on the counter; you know you’ll only want it later.—because the entire sentence isn’t a question. Thus, it doesn’t get a question mark as a terminal mark.

    I should mention here, for other readers, that I included the periods from the quoted sentences in the middle of my explanations only so I didn’t confuse Jesse about whether to include or not include the periods. We don’t typically include terminal punctuation marks that way in the middle of sentences. I also didn’t include standard punctuation within the parentheses in my explanations.

  10. Nick Daws says:

    Excellent article – I’ve shared it via Twitter and Facebook.

    I wondered what you thought about using two ellipses to indicate a pause in mid-speech rather than dashes. Something like this, maybe:

    “He loved you …” she twisted a strand of hair around her fingers ”… but you never cared.”

    I saw this recently in a published novel and it struck me as unusual, but not necessarily wrong. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

  11. Terry, I’d like to address your questions in an article of its own, if that’s okay with you. I’m sure I’ll need some space for that one. I’ll link here when I post.

  12. Nick, I’ve probably seen that same construction. I think there are quite likely dozens of ways that writers have interrupted dialogue.

    The problem with the ellipsis construction, especially with it inside the quotation marks, is that an ellipsis gives the impression that the speaker’s words have trailed off when that’s not always what’s happened. With speech that has trailed off, an ellipsis to end the dialogue plus a closing quotation mark and a new sentence seem to work well.

    “He loved you . . .” She twisted a strand of hair around her fingers. “But you never cared.”

    The emphasis here is on the hesitation in her speech. The reader begins to wonder why she’s hesitant. And the action of winding hair around her finger adds to the hesitation.

    Without the ellipsis, there’s little chance the reader will think that the character is hesitating.

    Also, the em dash is used for setting off digressions or descriptive elements, which is really what this construction is about. Without them, without that clear break, the reader could become confused. With no markers such as punctuation and capital letters, the sentences are hard to follow.

    She’d wanted to go to Moscow for years—her dad had always nixed her plans, certain she’d be robbed or kidnapped before she stepped out of the airport—but now the trip was imperative.

    “I’ve wanted to go to Moscow for years”—she could still hear her dad’s worry-words telling her what a bad idea that was—“but now the trip is imperative.”

    “I’ve wanted to go to Moscow for years . . .” she could still hear her dad’s worry-words telling her what a bad idea that was ” . . . but now the trip is imperative.”

    In the example without the dashes, the digression is set off by nothing; it just floats in the sentence. Dashes help frame it.

    Could you use the elliptical construction? We’ve seen it done. Yet we want to make our meaning clear to the reader. If they understand how an em dash sets off digressions in the middle of a sentence, why not use that format for dialogue as well?

    • Nick Daws says:

      Thanks, Beth. That’s an interesting way of looking at it.

      I agree, the version with dashes is better in many respects. Although, playing devil’s advocate for a moment, you could argue that the version with two ellipses could signify a longer, more significant mid-sentence pause than the version with the dashes.

      Anyway, thanks again for taking the trouble to provide such a detailed and thoughtful reply.

      Nick

  13. Nick, you are most welcome. Conversations about writing are fun.

  14. When you have one character telling another a story and quoting long passages of dialogue, do you use a double and single quote every time you go from dialogue to narrative? Even if it’s just to say, “he said.”

  15. Pepper, do you mean one character is speaking but he’s also quoting someone else? If it’s direct quote, it should still be in double and single quotation marks—double marks for the character’s words, single for the words he’s quoting. If the character is paraphrasing, only use the double quotation marks. But I can’t imagine that you’d want to have a character speaking dialogue while quoting someone else for a long passage.

    An example…
    “Hey, William, you remember what Miss Ethel told us? She always said, ‘Do it ever right the first time boys. Do it ever right.’ ” John wiped sweat from his eyes. “I guess this counts as doing it ever right.”

    John’s words are in double quotation marks. Miss Ethel’s, quoted by him, are in single quotation marks. The rest of the narrative doesn’t need quotation marks.

    If you want to paraphrase, you wouldn’t need the single quotation marks.

    “Hey, William, you remember what Miss Ethel told us, how she always said to do it ever right the first time?” John wiped sweat from his eyes. “I guess this counts as doing it ever right.”

    If John is simply talking to William and not quoting someone else, even if he’s telling a story, you only need the double quotation marks to indicate his speech. Quotation marks for dialogue and no marks for anything else.

    Does that answer your question?

  16. Keya says:

    I had a question about: Mixing dialogue with narration in the same paragraph.

    for example: “Who said that?” Mrs. Hopkins searched through each row with her brown eyes. “Who wants to stay after school with me today. I have all the time in the world.” Seth hides behind his backpack, out of Mrs. Hopkins view.

    see how i added another character actions, in the end. If that proper? or is it another way i should go about writing it.

  17. Keya, while it’s perfectly acceptable to mix dialogue with narration, in the example you presented, I would recommend a new paragraph for Seth.

    If Mrs. Hopkins was performing an action, then you wouldn’t need to begin a new paragraph. But Seth is a different character, so to keep his actions separate from her dialogue and her actions, begin a new paragraph.

    I’m not suggesting that you have to separate the actions of every character into their own paragraph, but because Mrs. Hopkins had dialogue and action, this paragraph pretty much belongs to her. Readers could be easily confused by adding Seth’s actions. The following, however, would work well to give one paragraph the actions of several characters.

    The boys in the back row were restless, Seth hid behind his backpack, and Mrs. Hopkins searched each row with her brown eyes.

    For your example, I’d go with:
    “Who said that?” Mrs. Hopkins searched through each row with her brown eyes. “Who wants to stay after school with me today. I have all the time in the world.”

    Seth hid behind his backpack, out of Mrs. Hopkins view.

    This construction allows Seth’s action to stand out and tells the reader we’re dealing with someone other than Mrs. Hopkins.

    I hope this helps.

  18. keya says:

    Do you have a blog on showing emotions in writing?

  19. Keya, I’ve got a couple of articles on emotion. Try Creating Emotion in the Reader first. It has a link to another of my articles in it.

  20. Pat Bertram says:

    Hi, Beth. Here is how I solve the problem of a wrong facing quotation mark after an em dash, though I don’t know if the same solution will work on your blog (since I’m sure you’ve already tried it): I add a space after the wrong quotation mark, put in the new mark, then backspace to the dash. There is no other way of doing it that I know of.

  21. It works in Word, but I can’t get it to work here, Pat. But there have been lots of changes to the setup since I tried, so maybe I can try again. Thanks for the reminder.

  22. I wonder if anyone can clarify something forme ?

    When writing dialogue, should one use a period or a comma when opening, for example;

    He said.”I have no idea.”
    He said,”I have no idea.”

    What are the rules for periods and commas in this situation? : )

  23. Deborah, I can clarify that for you. Use the comma. You might have missed the example in the article—

    Single line with dialogue tag first
    The comma still separates the dialogue tag from the spoken words, but it is outside the quotation marks, and the period is inside the quotation marks.

    She said, “He loved you.”

  24. Dan says:

    Ok, question.

    Helping proofread and keep coming across an issue I can’t adequately find an answer to…

    “Look, Phil,” I said to my driver, “There’s that bicycle you mentioned.”

    Is ‘there’s’ capitalized or not. It’s not clear whether the first portion of the dialogue is its own statement. I’ve come across a few of these in the writing and none are cut and dried that the first segment should have a period or not…and I can’t contact the author at the moment to get her insight into what she had intended.

  25. Dan, you’re right to questions this one. The comma after driver and the capital T definitely don’t go together.

    To decide which is correct, the comma or the capital letter, consider the dialogue without the tag—

    “Look, Phil. There’s that bicycle you mentioned.”

    Here we have a period after Phil and a capital T for there’s, indicating two sentences. So, with the dialogue tag—
    “Look, Phil,” I said to my driver. “There’s that bicycle you mentioned.”

    These, slightly different, are also correct—

    “Phil,” I said to my driver, “there’s that bicycle you mentioned.”

    “Look,” I said to my driver. “There’s that bicycle you mentioned.”

  26. Christine says:

    Hello,
    I was hoping you could tell me which sentence is correct. :)

    “Althought these”—she looked at the row of beeswax sculptures”—don’t meet the criteria for art.”

    or

    “Althought these”—she looked at the row of beeswax sculptures—”don’t meet the criteria for art.”

  27. Christine, go with the second option. Let the quotation marks enclose her words and the dashes set off her actions.

    As Nick noted in one of the earlier comments, some writers have used other options. But this definitely works and gets across both the action and the dialogue with little fuss.

    However, since the dashes do stand out, I recommend you don’t overuse this construction.

    • I’ve been looking for an answer to this question for ages. Your solution has some difficulties for me, however. Since the em-dash is meant to indicate speech (not action) that is cut off, shouldn’t the first dash go before the 1st set of closing quotation marks? And I note that the opening marks in the second quote are backwards–which Word vexingly does. Would this work better? “Although these–” she looked at the row of beeswax sculptures “–don’t meet the criteria for art.” I believe this was the solution of the very first commenter here.

      • M. S., check this one out in Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition) in 6.84. It’s the last example they give. (I don’t know that they ever had an example of this construction in earlier editions.)

        Think of this as setting off the words that aren’t dialogue rather than interrupting the dialogue. That might help you visualize how it should look.

        For your example, you could have either—

        “Although these”—she looked at the row of beeswax sculptures—“don’t meet the criteria for art.”

        Or

        “Although these . . .” She looked at the row of beeswax sculptures. ” . . . don’t meet the criteria for art.”

        As for the backward quotation marks—there is a way around them in Word. Unfortunately, I can’t do that same thing here in WordPress. Or at least I’ve not yet figured out how.

        I hope this helps.

  28. Thanks for this, it’s really useful. I have big problems knowing when to use a capital letter for Mum, Dad, etc. What are the rules? Thanks.

  29. Hi, Alison.

    When mum or dad or grandpa and similar words are used as names, whether in dialogue or narration, capitalize those words. Otherwise, they are just nouns and get no capital letter. If they are preceded by my or your (his, her, their, or our), don’t capitalize them.

    So—

    I swear my mum can get lost between my house and hers. She was calling, from some road I didn’t recognize by name, and asking for directions.

    “Elle, just tell me left or right at the next intersection.”

    “That’s just it, Mum. I don’t know where you are and what intersection is coming up.”

    The phone rang with silence. Then she said, “You mean you’ve forgotten how to get to your own house?”

    I beat my head against the wall. I wouldn’t wish my mother on anyone.

    ——-

    I hope this helps.

  30. Nancy LeBrun says:

    My question is about taglines. In the following taglines, should I use a comma before the word “as”?
    “Now you have to watch the snowboarding competition with me,” I demanded, as I dragged hm onto the couch.

    “Megan, come with us,” Lily said, as she grabbed Megan’s hand.

  31. Nancy, the short answer is no comma for either of your examples. But this is a great question, one I’d like to get into with an article. I’ll post a link here when I’ve got it ready.

    Some uses of as would require a comma, however, such as—
    “Yes, yes, yes,” she said, as was her way.

  32. Nancy LeBrun says:

    Okay, here is another sentence that makes me crazy because I can’t decide if I should use a comma or a semi-colon. Technically, it is 2 sentences without a connector.
    “Come on, let’s go.” or should it be “Come on; let’s go.”

    • If this is two commands, then yes, it’s also two sentences and you could use a semicolon. But you do have some leeway with that construction. Remember I came, I saw, I conquered. You can override the rules with short sentenes with related clauses.

      You could also look at come on as an interjection rather than a command, and that means either a comma or a period. I can’t imagine anyone recommending a semicolon in this sentence. It would be stilted and fussy.

  33. Nancy LeBrun says:

    Oh, and here is another word that leaves me unsure….the word ‘due’. Is it considered a dependant marker? Here’s an example:
    “Wes and I are coming back to apartment to stay there for the night due to unexpected troubles from Stef’s sister.”
    Should there be a comma after the word ‘night’?

    • Yes, due to used here is a subordinating conjunction in the manner of because and since and as. Since it comes at the end of the sentence, it gets no comma. Had you said—Due to unexpected troubles from Stef’s sister, Wes and I are going back to the apartment—then you would need the comma.

  34. Nancy LeBruh says:

    Going back to the post with the 2 short sentences and whether to use a comma or a semi-colon. Here is another example:
    He shook his head. “You’re crazy, you know that?” or should it be “You’re crazy; you know that?”

    • Comma for this one.

      This sentence is a tag question. It turns a statement into a question. It’s often used to elicit agreement or disagreement or some kind of reply, but sometimes it’s rhetorical. You’ll see questions such as You just had to do that, didn’t you? and She’d fallen in the lake again, hadn’t she? and You know she’s only looking for sympathy, right? and You think I’m crazy, do you?

  35. Nancy LeBrun says:

    And here is yet another one. “I called you because I was hoping that you and Omino—I’m sorry; I mean you and Gavin are doing well.”

    After “I’m Sorry,” Should there be a comma or a semi-colon?

  36. Nancy LeBrun says:

    In the following sentence, it seems that a comma is required, but my computer advises me to put in the word “and.” I don’t want to do that. So how should I puntuate the sentence then?

    He came up smiling, then cllimbed on top of me.

    comma or semi-colon? In the second part of the sentence, there is no subject. “He” is implied, so, technically it is not a separate sentence.

  37. Nancy LeBrun says:

    I hate to keep picking your brain, but you are an incredible help to me. My next question is abou tthe word “now.” Are these sentences correct?

    “Are you ready to go now?”
    “Are you happy, now?”

  38. Nancy LeBrun says:

    Okay, now I am told that “since” is a dependant marker, but I have seen sentences whre a phrase beginning with “since” has that comma before it. How do I know when to use a comma?
    In this sentence:
    Tuesday morning, Wes slept in, since he had the day off.
    It seems to me that a comma should be there. Yes?

  39. Nancy LeBrun says:

    Oops. I had one more with the word “since”.
    “Hey, is your girlfriend still there?” I said, referring to Lily, since I assumed he was home by now.
    There should be a comma after “Lily” because the phrase “referring to Lily” is not needed to complete the sentence and should be set off by commas. Is that correct?

  40. Commas will be the death of me.

    In this sentence: “Take your clothes off–but do it slowly.” I can’t make a long dash on this site, but that’s what it is. Should there be a comma after the word “off”, or is it unecessary due to the pause created by the dash?

    In this sentence: “Take me then,” I said innocently.
    Should there be a comma after the word “me”?

  41. Nancy LeBrun says:

    This is a question about how to handle song titles and lyrics. Consider the following sentence: He slid the dial and stopped on a song called ‘Lucky Man’ by Emerson, Lake, Palmer. Should Lucky Man be in single quotes, double quotes, or Italics?

    This one has lyrics: I didn’t know the name or the singer, but I knew the song lyrics: “I’ll–be–your crying shoulder…” Again should these lyrics be in single quotes, double quotes or italics?

  42. Nancy LeBrun says:

    Back to quotations.In the following sentence, should “baby” be in single quotes, double quotes or in Italics?
    “I’m sorry, baby.” The ‘baby’ reference went right through me.

  43. Nancy, I haven’t forgotten you. I may put these together in one article and answer them for you.

    • Nancy LeBrun says:

      Beth,

      I wanted you to know that I’ve been trying to self publish my book, and although I have learned A LOT about punctuation along the way, commas and semi-colons still mystify me because the rules are often broken, and quite often I don’t know why. I published the first book last year, and to be truthful, I’m almost afraid to pick it up and read it for fear that I will see a ton of gramatical errors. Most readers probably wouldn’t even notice, but I am hoping that by the end of the series, I’ll know my stuff. You are a great help. Thank you for your patience with me.- NL

  44. Nancy LeBrun says:

    This sentence left me baffled:
    Just one more day to get through and it would be just him and me for four days.
    Do I need a comma after the word “through”? Why or why not?

  45. Nancy LeBrun says:

    Quotation marks. Single vs. double. Is this correct? All quotes after the period or single quotation after the period. Or should I not use the single quotes at all? Maybe Italics instead?
    “If it makes you feel and better, Gavin refers to you as ‘my boyfriend.'”

  46. Cass says:

    Hi Again!
    You probably already addressed this question but I am double checking just in case I missed something … when you don’t have a dialogue tag, you use a period and when you do, you use a comma. Am I correct?
    Sorry if this seems like a very silly question but I want to write my story as correct as possible.

    Thanks so much!
    Cass

  47. W.E. Larson says:

    Wonderful post!

    To fix your smart quotes problem, edit the post in HTML mode and replace the quote that WordPress is getting wrong with “ for an opening quote and ” for a closing quote.

    i.e. “He loved you”–at least she thought he had–”but you never cared.” becomes “He loved you”–at least she thought he had–“but you never cared.”

    • W.E. Larson says:

      It helps if I escape my codes so they don’t get converted.

      To fix your smart quotes problem, edit the post in HTML mode and replace the quote that WordPress is getting wrong with “ for an opening quote and ” for a closing quote.

      i.e. “He loved you”–at least she thought he had–”but you never cared.” becomes “He loved you”–at least she thought he had–“but you never cared.”

  48. W. E., I think I love you. Thank you so very much. I never thought of looking for an HTML code.

  49. Andrew Nest says:

    I want to know if all the following sentences are acceptable and what style you would prefer. i know the first one is correct, but do we need to say ‘he said’ if it is obvious. Can anyone help me?

    1. “You must be crazy,” he said, and (he) laughed again.
    2. “You must be crazy,” and (he) laughed again.
    3. “You must be crazy.” And he laughed again.
    4. “You must be crazy.” He laughed again.

  50. A good question, Andrew. I’ve seen sentences like each of those you listed here.

    First off, you’re right; you don’t need to say “he said” if it’s clear who’s speaking. Yet sometimes you might want the attribution for rhythm or balance.

    Numbers one and four are correct. In a separate issue, in number one, if you use the he before laughed, I’d use a comma after said. Otherwise you don’t need the comma after said.

    Two is incorrect because what comes after the comma should be a dialogue tag. If there’s no tag (and no action set off by em dashes), then crazy should be followed by a period rather than a comma.

    Two and three are also both incorrect because the ands don’t join anything—but for number three, we don’t necessarily have all the information. Three would work if it said something such as He laughed. “You must be crazy.” And then he laughed again. In this example, and actually joins two actions, as it did in the first example with him both saying and laughing.

    If you don’t want to say “he said,” you have a couple choices—

    “You must be crazy.” He laughed again.
    He laughed. “You must be crazy.” And then he laughed again.

    Will these work for your needs?

  51. Great article. Answered the question I was looking for an answer to, as I’m typesetting a friend’s novel.

    Just thought I’d point out a small typo that caught my eye.

    In the section where you write:

    Dialogue abruptly cut off by another speaker
    When a second speaker interrupts the first, use the em dash where the first speaker’s words are interrupted and again where they resume.

    “He loved you—”

    “As if I could belive that.”

    “—for such a long, long time.”

    ——

    It should be “As if I could believe that.”

  52. Gavin, I’m glad you found what you were looking for and thanks for the tip on the typo—I definitely don’t like typos in my articles.

  53. Tom says:

    This is very helpful. I was particularly interested the single quote followed by the double quotes. Personally, I struggle with the space between the single and double quotes. I’ve read on the Internet there isn’t a clear rule on this. Some sites offer no space between the single and double quotes. One of the problems is Word can break this space between the two and I tend to think it looks bad. Am I right, this one is open to debate? I know one could put a fixed space between the two.

  54. Tom, it is indeed open to debate. Most publishers will print with a space there, but it’s typically smaller than a normal space.

    The reason I recommend the space for manuscripts is to make the read easy on agents and publishers. You don’t want them having to guess whether or not you’ve included both the single and the double quotation marks. You also don’t want the punctuation to look like a blob. The space shows both quotation marks for what they are.

    Chicago Manual of Style calls the use of a space in this instance a “typographical nicety.” I look at it much the same way. Anything to make the read easier.

    But yes, I’d recommend a non-breaking space, the same you’d use in an ellipsis. The keys for a non-breaking space are Ctrl—Shift—Space.

    A great question. Thanks for asking it.

    If a publisher or agent either requires the space or asks that you not use it, of course you’d follow their guidelines. Otherwise you have leeway.

  55. kit kat says:

    Im a 6th grader and im working on a paper so this really helped thx for the help.

  56. Kit Kat, good luck on the paper. I’m glad you found something to help you here.

  57. Hi Beth,

    I find your blog so helpful! An input question, if you don’t mind:

    I’m an American editing for a British publisher who follow the common British practice of using spaced en dashes for parenthetical usage and closed em dashes for interruptions. In a situation where dialogue is interrupted with an action, I’m unsure of which method to follow. I assume spaced en, but it looks bizarre to me.

    ‘And since when did you eat’ – I held up a fast-food wrapper between finger and thumb. It dripped – ‘this kind of stuff?’

    What do you think? I have a lot of input to the style sheet so this is something I’d like to establish for their future edits. Do you think we could get away with using closed em in these situations even though the same construction outside of dialogue would get spaced en, or would that appear inconsistent?

    Thanks for any input you’re willing to offer!

  58. Rachel, you made me think with this one. I’ve not seen anything hard and fast for British English regarding this issue.

    My first response is to tell you to be consistent, meaning use the en dash with spaces.

    Yet, while everyone uses em dashes for interruptions (it’s pretty much a standard rule), for parentheticals, you have a choice. Your publisher made the choice to go with en dashes and spaces, but it’s not an iron-clad rule.

    Thus you could make the same kind of decision for the interruption of dialogue; it would be simply a style decision and neither the adherence to nor the bucking of a rule. As long as you were consistent with the usage, I don’t think you’d have a problem defending your stance.

    Plus, who’s to say whether the action dividing the dialogue is a parenthetical break or the dialogue is interrupted by the action? Again, you could easily argue either side.

    In Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman, there’s an example from A Suitable Boy, a book by Vikram Seth. The punctuation is BrE and the action that interrupts the dialogue is set off by em dashes, no spaces, just as you’d like to do it. You could always check out other books, but because this is not an absolute, I’m guessing you’ll find examples of both.

    There are already going to be both en dashes with spaces and em dashes without them in your books, so you wouldn’t be adding an extra option, just choosing from the two you already have. Another argument for either choice.

    I do advise you to check the New Oxford Style Manual or Hart’s Rules, just to see what they have to say (I don’t have either, otherwise I’d check for you). But there’s no clear prohibition that I know of, so I think you’re safe to push for the option you prefer. Thus my second, considered, response is that you go for the em dash without spaces.

    If anyone else has an opinion or a reference for us, please speak up. And, Rachel, let me know if you find a specific rule for this. I’m guessing there isn’t one, but you never know.

    • Thanks so much, Beth! I do have Hart’s/New Oxford Style (my Bible these days) but unfortunately they don’t give an example for dialogue interrupted by action (Chicago is much more thorough, in SO many ways!). To make it even more hazy, Oxford uses closed-up em dashes, so although there is a notation that ‘other British publishers use the en rule with space either side’, all of their examples for parenthetical _and_ interruption are given with closed-up ems.

      It’s great to know I’m not alone in thinking an argument could be made for action breaking dialogue qualifying as either an aside or an interruption. I agree it doesn’t appear to be a rule by any BrE standard and will be up to style preference.

      For me, the spaced ens highlight the lack of a comma before the first closing quote, making it look like a typo, whereas the closed-up ems draw your attention to the break, which is the intended purpose.

      To throw a wrench in this discussion, I’ve had several British authors and one editor I worked with (who I felt had a lot of weak areas and so I didn’t trust her rulings on everything) who put the dashes inside the quote. In fact, the example above was originally written by the author as:

      ‘And since when did you eat – ‘ I held up a fast-food wrapper between finger and thumb. It dripped. ‘ – this kind of stuff?’

      I don’t feel that would be correct, nor if the spaces between the en dash and quote were removed, nor if closed-up ems were used instead!

      ~Rach

  59. Rachel, as you have, I’ve seen all sorts of punctuation combinations for interrupted dialogue, including unbalanced ones with the dash inside the quotation marks on one side of the interruption and outside them on the other. I think the problem here is simply that writers don’t know how to set up such a construction. It’s not one talked about very often. It’s not used very often. But I love how it gives writers another way to approach dialogue.

    If Oxford uses the closed em dash, I definitely think you’ve got a good case for using them.

    I’m laughing as I write this, but since you’re an editor, you’ll understand I can’t resist asking about other changes to the sentence from your example. Did you by chance change it to

    ‘And since when did you eat‘—I held up a dripping fast-food wrapper between finger and thumb—‘this kind of stuff?’

    Just wondering . . .

  60. Wynja says:

    I hope I leave this in the right place so I’m not butting into another conversation… sorry if that’s the case!
    I have a question about dialogue punctuation in English that I’d love to “put to rest” so to speak…
    The example:
    “I like you,” he smiled.
    vs.
    “I like you.” He smiled.

    For me, the last one sounds like he’s smiling AFTER he speaks, and the first one sounds (like I meant it to) that he smiles AS he’s speaking… but is the second one still the correct one? I tend to write he smiles/laugh/coughed/frowned and such a lot, and in my minds eye it often happens WHILE speaking… but it’s not “speak things” to do.. .I mean stuttered/whispered and such would CLEARLY be a comma… help?

  61. Wynja, feel free to ask questions on any article.

    Yes, the second option, with the period between the dialogue and the smile, is the correct one. With the comma rather than a period, he smiled is turned into a dialogue tag. But people don’t smile their speech. They can’t laugh it or snort it either. Check out this article on the use and misuse of dialogue tags for more details.

    If you want to keep the smile in the same sentence as the dialogue, to keep them close together—even though people don’t really smile while they’re speaking, try something like this—

    “I like you,” he said, smiling broadly.

    And you’re right that whispered would get a comma, because it introduces a dialogue tag. Stuttered, however? You’d find people that argue on both sides of that one. People do stutter, but it’s a description of what they do. It’s not the same as saying they said something. But some genres are more accepting of creative dialogue tags. The point with a tag, however, is to let readers know who is speaking. It’s not to describe how the character delivers his words. There are plenty of other ways to do that.

    I hope that helps.

  62. Ezri says:

    That was really useful. Thanks!

  63. Angela says:

    Hi! I’m so glad I came across your site! I was wondering if you might help me with two sentences in quotes that have been boggling my mind for days!

    1. An interrupted question: Does the second part of the question in the quotation marks begin with a capital?
    “How do you know you don’t like broccoli?” my moms asks, “if you won’t even taste it?”
    Vs.
    “How do you know you don’t like broccoli?” my moms asks, “If you won’t even taste it?”

    2.
    “You’ll love it, just try it.”
    Vs.
    “You’ll love it. Just try it.”
    Vs.
    “You’ll love it just try it.”

    Thank you so much for all your help!!

    • Angela, if the question is truly interrupted, the second half doesn’t start with a capital letter. So in your #1, the first option is correct. Yet the question mark goes at the end of the full sentence, not halfway through. So—

      “How do you know you don’t like broccoli,” my mom asks, “if you won’t even taste it?”

      A slightly different wording, however, would give you another option, two separate sentences—

      “How do you know you don’t like broccoli?” my mom asks. “You won’t even taste it.”

      For your second example, both options 1 and 2 are correct, although some might consider the first option to be a comma splice. Yet for short sentences whose clauses are similar, the comma is sufficient. You typically wouldn’t use a period or semicolon (though both are technically correct) for a sentence such as—

      He wanted steak, she wanted lamb.

      Your third option is a run-on sentence—punctuation is needed between the sentence parts.

      I hope that helps.

      • Angela says:

        Yes this really helps! Thank you so much!! :-)

      • Angela says:

        Since you were so helpful with my questions about sentences within quotes, I was hoping you would be able to help me figure out the proper use of ellipses used for pausing.

        1. Is this the correct way to use a pausing ellipses or does the Y in yummy need to be capitalized?

        “Mmmm… yummy cheesy broccoli,” she says.

        2. Is the spacing of the ellipses correct? Also, is the “So” capitalized?

        Okay maybe just a little bite… So I closed my eyes, held my breath, and took a bite.

        Thank you so much for your time and help! :-)

  64. Thank you! Your information is so helpful. I’m at a loss with punctuation, which makes this blog a tremendous help. I have a retired English teacher who does my editing for me. It seems I learned ‘informal’ English in school, but writing novels should be done with ‘formal’ English. Every time I think I’ve finally gotten it right, she corrects me!
    I have already found answers to several problems that have plagued me. I’m going to correct those. Just maybe, I won’t have so many red marks when she returns my mss. Thank you again.

  65. C.hagens says:

    Hi Ms. Hill,
    I love the post on Punctuation in Dialogue.
    I’m really trying to wrap my head around how to punctuate an action following a dialogue tag.

    In the section below from your post:

    Single line of dialogue with dialogue tag and action
    The dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks. A comma follows the dialogue and comes before the closing quotation mark. The dialogue tag is next and the action follows the tag—no capital letter because this is part of the same sentence—with a period to end the sentence.

    “He loved you,” she said, hoping Sue didn’t hear her.

    Is there a difference in writing the example above like this like the following:

    “He loved you, ” she said. She hoped Sue didn’t hear her.

    Thanks you so much for help on this

  66. Thanks so much for posting this. I’m always confused about the rules on quotation marks. This is very helpful.

  67. Rose Lee says:

    Good information. have More stuff about Use of Capitalization in English quickly to share.

  68. I can’t thank you enough! I’ve been reading ever since I could remember and I don’t know why I failed to notice that every quote ended with a comma [like this: "She loved you," he said.] I always wrote it this way: “She loved you.” he said.

    So yes, thank you so much! Your blog has been a lot of help since punctuation is really difficult. Thanks again!

    • Ailla, I’m glad the blog’s been helpful. Until we sit down and try to write out the stories in our heads, few of use do know how a manuscript is typically formatted, so don’t think you’re the only one.

  69. Moppin says:

    I am writing a play for the first time. I have the characters name the semicolon space on some I have the ( action ) then the dialogue do I capitalize the first word of the line even though it is a action?

    And then I have the characters name the semicolon space then the dialogue then the ( for action then the ) do I capitalize the first word of the action if yes, why if no why not? Thank you for your time. Moppin

  70. Jayde says:

    I just wanted to ask something about dashes (-)… you see, I’m continuing a sentence after my character has been interrupted. For example:

    “But Mr Jenson –,” Sophie’s piercing voice hollered. “Please, sir; he’s calling you all sorts of names!”

    Is a comma required after the dash is in the first part of dialogue? Or should it just be left as a dash?

    Thanks in advance, and thankyou for all of your help!!
    -Jayde

  71. Jayde, the short answer is no comma. The dash replaces the need for it. (CMOS 16 6.86 and Hart’s 4.11.2)

    But there are other issues to look at in your example.

    #1 I’m guessing that you’re using British English (BrE) rules because of your dash surrounded by spaces and the absence of a full stop after Mr. But even with BrE, use a full em dash (or em rule) before the closing quotation marks when dialogue is cut off. This means no spaces on either side. So “But, Mr Jensen—”

    #2 We use the em dash to show when dialogue has been cut off or interrupted, typically by another character but sometimes by the speaker herself. Yet in your example, that doesn’t look to be the case. Nothing is interrupting her except the dialogue tag, which isn’t an interruption in the usual sense. I suggest not using a dash for this example. It’s simply regular dialogue. These options would work—

    “But, Mr Jenson,” Sophie hollered, her voice piercing, “please, sir, he’s calling you all sorts of names!”

    “But, Mr Jenson,” Sophie hollered, her voice piercing. “Please, sir, he’s calling you all sorts of names!”

    “But, Mr Jenson”—Sophie’s voice was piercing—“please, sir, he’s calling you all sorts of names!”

    If you do want something to interrupt her words, show what that something is. I’ve embellished a bit in the next example to give you an idea of interrupted dialogue.

    “But, Mr Jenson—” Sophie clapped a hand over her mouth. Nobody hollered in the chairman’s office. “Please, sir,” she whispered, “he’s calling you all sorts of names!”

    #3 Both BrE and American English (AmE) require a comma before a name in direct address.

    ——–
    More than you wanted, I’m sure. But I hope it helps.

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  1. [...] “You can’t tell me n—” “I mean it,” she interrupted. (The interruption is obvious from the use of the dash to interrupt the other speaker’s words.) **For a refresher on the rules for punctuating dialogue, see Punctuation in Dialogue.** [...]

  2. [...] more tips, I’d recommend checking out How to Punctuate Dialogue at the Editor’s Blog and Dialog [...]

  3. [...] at this time; that seems too peaceful. (9) Speaker attributions ("said X" etc) are typically separated from speaker actions (where the speaker's doing something that doesn't interact with the preceding dialogue) by a comma, [...]

  4. [...] via Punctuation in Dialogue. [...]

  5. [...] You should punctuate  and use correct grammar in your dialog. The stuff inside the quotes doesn’t have to be a complete sentence but what comes after it, should be. Check this page for more information. [...]

  6. [...] going to address a handful of questions, not just one. These were begun in the comment section of Punctuation in Dialogue, and I thought they deserved a larger [...]

  7. [...] Punctuation in Dialogue from The Editor’s Blog [...]

  8. [...] How to Punctuate Dialogue by The Editor’s Blog Technorati Tags: dialog,dialogue,writing,tips,editor,authors,fictions,non-fictions,characters. Rate this:Share this:ShareFacebookTwitterEmailDiggPinterestLinkedInRedditStumbleUponTumblrPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  9. [...] Check out this link with loads of good information about how to quote dialog: http://theeditorsblog.net/2010/12/08/punctuation-in-dialogue/ [...]

  10. [...] parts of a quote. These skills can be taught in advance or provided on a print-out or link to some quoting basics compliments of the Internet (adapt one to your liking — or act like you own the joint and [...]

  11. [...] The Editor’s Blog: Punctuation in Fiction (US) [...]

  12. [...] Lastly, read the dialogue out loud! You’ll be surprised how well that little tip works to improve your dialogue. [...]

  13. [...] site helped tremendously! Click here for this awesome [...]

  14. [...] the end of a passage of dialogue.  Here are Grammar Girl’s Tips on writing dialogue, and here are some tips on punctuating [...]

  15. [...] Part 1: You will engage in a creative writing exercise. In at least 400 words, you will rewrite the ending of one of the texts we have read in class this semester – either a novel or a short story (except “Harrison Bergeron”). If you choose to use creative/inventive punctuation or language, you must indicate to me that this is intentional by adding a comment to the side of the essay. Please remember to punctuate dialogue correctly. There is a special format for punctuating dialogue, and this link is a helpful resource: http://theeditorsblog.net/2010/12/08/punctuation-in-dialogue/ [...]

  16. [...] Punctuation in Dialogue [...]

  17. [...] Yes, those are lower case letters following punctuation marks enclosed by quotation marks. You can read more about punctuating dialogue by clicking here. [...]

  18. [...] I’m lazy, I’m going to paste a link on dialogue tagging and let you frolic over [...]

  19. [...] 1. Punctuation in Dialogue written by Beth Hill at The Editor’s Blog [...]

  20. [...] what is possibly the most comprehensive guide on dialogue styling.  I’m copying it from the Editor’s Blog, because I think it deserves to feature prominently as a [...]

  21. [...] last week, one of my wonderful critique partners alerted us to this awesome post about punctuation in dialogue. It’s a great resource that you can refer back to for those tricky dialogue-and-action [...]

  22. [...] articles continue to outpace all others—Punctuation in Dialogue and Formatting a Manuscript for Submission together account for more than 20% of all visits to the [...]