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Using quotation marks,
capital letters, and italics
Quotations need to be introduced or identified with a
signal phrase which identifies who is speaking in
the quotation. The signal phrase can come before or
after the quotation itself.
The coach said, “We are improving a little every
“We are improving a little every day,” said the
Notice the use of a comma in each example to set the
signal phrase off from the quote.
Quotations always begin with capital letters unless
they are broken into two parts by a signal phrase.
Then, the first word in the second half will only be
capitalized if it begins a new sentence.
“We need to write more songs,” said the musician.
“Otherwise, we’ll have to play too many covers.”
“I can’t help wondering,” said my mother, “what
happened to the little boy I once knew.
Note: Break quotes into two parts when they are long or
unwieldy or to emphasize the second part.
At the end of a quotation, the comma or period
is always placed inside the second set of
quotation marks. The only exception is when a
question mark or exclamation point applies to the
whole sentence and is not just part of the quoted
The woman asked, “How much longer will it
take to get there?” (Inside quote)
Are you familiar with Edgar Allan Poe’s poem,
“The Raven”? (Outside quote)
Quotation marks are used to identify titles of
short written works, such as poems, essays,
articles, songs, short stories, Web pages and TV
Poe’s poem, “The Raven”
The Beatles’ song “Eleanor Rigby”
A daily newspaper article “New Hampshire circus
tent collapse kills two”
Italics are used to identify long works, such as
books, newspapers, magazines, plays, albums,
Web sites, movies, and TV series.
The Boston Globe is a newspaper that is
Huffington Post is a website the compiles articles
from around the country.
Go Set a Watchman is Harper Lee’s new book.
Mrs. Doubtfire is a classic comedy starring Robin
In deciding whether to capitalize a noun, determine if
the word is referring to a specific person, place, or
thing or is just a general term.
Aunt Judy is my hero. My aunt is my hero.
Dr. Roberts lives here. My doctor lives there.
I’m from the Midwest. I live west of the Ohio River.
He teaches AP Literature He teaches an
advanced literature class