You’ll Love the “Chicken” at Toucan’s Bayou Kitchen!
Besides quoting another person or organization, quotation marks can imply more than meets the eye.
Notice the difference between the following two menu items:
Today’s special: Chicken
Today’s special: “Chicken”
The former implies what we all know as chicken; however, the latter implies it could be anything. Perhaps it’s skunk that’s been stewing in chicken stock or it could be so good, it’s hard to believe it’s actually chicken.
Don’t leave your audience guessing! Always deliver a clear message to your readers. Try out these quotation mark tips to maintain your credibility.
Use quotation marks for direct quotations and dialogue.
“Today’s special is chicken,” said Toucan. “Get it while it’s fresh!”
“You fail only if you stop writing.” – Ray Bradbury.
Thomas Jefferson said, “Be polite to all, but intimate with few.”
Quotation marks can be used to indicate irony or skepticism, but should not be overused.*
“It’s okay, you can ‘attack’ me,” said Lynn.
“What’s with the quotation fingers?” Bob Wilton asked. “It’s like saying I’m only capable of ironic attacking or something.”
– The Men Who Stare at Goats, 2009
*Quotation marks are not needed after the words or phrases so-called, known as, and called.
This so-called chicken … Is it really a chicken or is it a skunk in disguise?
When quoting lines of text that are indented (generally used when quotations are 100 words or more), then quotation marks are not needed.*
- In his commencement address to the MIT class of ’97, Kurt Vonnegut offered this advice:
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own…
*For non-indented quotations that run over multiple paragraphs (and it’s not dialogue), don’t add a quotation mark at the end of the paragraph unless it’s the last sentence of the quotation.
When a quote is introduced indirectly, then quotation marks are not needed.
Oscar Wilde declared that a gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.
When familiar phrases of literary origin, colloquial phrases, proverbs, etc., are used, then there is no need for quotation marks.
Growing up in the heart of New York City had its highs and lows. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Slow down, Jerry! Haste makes waste.
The question mark (?), the exclamation mark (!), and the dash (-) go inside the quotation mark when they belong to the quotation. Otherwise they occur outside the quote.
Didn’t Marie Antoinette say, “Let them eat cake”?
Many historians assert that Marie Antoinette never exclaimed, “Let them eat cake!”
It may not seem correct at times, but the comma always belongs inside quotations marks.
Who doesn’t love Shel Silverstein’s poems “Danny O’Dare,” “Bear In There,” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends”?
Use quotation marks on titles of short stories, poems, essays, articles, television shows, radio programs, and songs.
After reading Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening,” I began “The Storm.”
Use these quotation tips to strengthen your writing skills, as well as maintain your credibility as an Expert Author. We will have more punctuation howlers coming up in the next few weeks, so stop by the Blog for the latest and greatest tips to error-free articles.
Did you miss our last edition of Top Punctuation Howlers? Find out more about the semicolon here!