How to Properly Use Quotation Marks in an Essay

Quotation marks are sometimes known as speech marks or inverted commas. However, regardless of what you call them, they are punctuation marks that are used to highlight specific parts of a text within a sentence or a paragraph. Now, if you aren’t a native English speaker, these marks can be rather tricky to master. This is why the following article offers up some important rules as well as quotation marks examples to remember.

The Types of Quotation Marks

Technically, there are two types of inverted commas. There are the double quotation marks which look like this “ ” and the single inverted commas which appear as such ‘ ’. Now, if this form of punctuation is already puzzling you, then the different types may only serve to confuse you more. Don’t worry, though, since this can be sorted out rather easily…

As a rule of thumb:

  • British English and Australian English writers use ‘ ’ when writing
  • American English writers rely on “ ” in their texts

Still, this isn’t always absolutely necessary. Rather, what is most important when using these punctuation marks is consistency. That is to say, once you have picked a specific form, you should continue using the same type throughout your entire text.

Another point to focus on is when mentioning a quotation during a text that involves a speech. Let’s consider the following example:

“What do you think she meant when she called me a ‘miser’?”

As you can see here, both types have been utilized. Once again, though, it is all about remaining consistent when quoting things inside inverted commas. If you are going to use the above structure once, then you will need to continue doing so for the rest of your text as well.

Main Rules How to Use Quotation Marks in Academic Papers

Of course, as a student, what you are most interested in is how and when to use quotation marks in an academic paper. While you do need to remember the rules mentioned in the previous section, there are also some additional guidelines to keep in mind as well.

Here are the top rules and quotation marks examples to rely on in your research paper or essay:

  • To be used to highlight direct quotations:

The most memorable line from Shakespeare’s Henry IV is “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.

  • To highlight speech:

“You wouldn’t believe the news I just heard!” she said.

  • When referring to the title of a book or a poem

My favorite book by Kurt Vonnegut is “Cat’s Cradle”.

Quotation Marks and Other Punctuation

One thing you will have noticed when reading various books is that there is punctuation inside quotes as well as outside of them. Thus, this is another skill that you need to master before you can use inverted commas properly and effectively.

These are the main punctuation guidelines to live by:

  • Quotation marks and periods: whether there is a period after quotation or before, depends on your geographical location. If you live in the United States, then the period will appear before the inverted commas. Those living in Britain and Australia will place it after.
  • Quotation marks and commas: the same rule as above applies to commas as well. If you are writing according to American English regulations, then you will place the comma before quotation. In case you are following the British English rules, then you will add it after.
  • Quotation marks with exclamation points and question marks: here, it depends on the actual sentence. For instance, if the exclamation or question is a part of a speech, then the punctuation mark will be placed before the inverted commas. However, if the speech marks are merely highlighting a phrase, title, or quote, then the question mark or exclamation point will fall outside of it.

Even with all of these instructions, you may find yourself struggling to use inverted commas properly. If this is an issue that you continue to wrestle with, then you should consider employing an essay editing service for your work. This type of service goes through what you have written and makes the necessary adjustments. Thus, if you have misused quotation marks, they will fix these mistakes accordingly.

As you can see, this form of assistance could be quite useful for you, especially with academic papers. By showing your professor that you can use quotation marks properly, you will make your essay or paper look a lot more professional. In turn, this means a higher grade for you.

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