Punctuation Part Three: Quotation Marks and Exclamation Points


The confusion over punctuation seems to be universal with both seasoned and newbie writers. I hope this series is helpful to my readers to act as a reference when you are second guessing your need, or non-need to punctuate your writing. This week we will be discussing punctuation marks that indicate dialogue and exclamations.


Quotation marks are used to indicate dialogue or someone speaking. As noted before in American English the punctuation marks always go within the quotation marks. [Note: in British English the punctuation marks go outside the quotation marks.]

Quotation marks are not used to indicate a thought, even when the character is recalling the concept of what was said. They are only used when directly recalling the exact words spoken.

  • Example (recalling an idea): Ron remembered Jackie saying she loved dark Chocolate.
  • Example (Recalling exact words): Ron remembered the conversation he had with Jackie about sweets. “The only kind of Chocolate I love is Dark chocolate. It’s the best!”
  • Example (Non-quoted thought): After talking to Jackie, Ron thought to himself, I better not give her those milk chocolates I got.

Quotation marks are used to show a new person speaking. In a dialogue when a new person speaks, a new paragraph is needed with its own quotation marks. Because it is considered a new paragraph it must be indented.

  •  Example:

“John is lighting the lamp now.”

“What? Up those stairs?” She said looking at the winding staircase leading to the top of the lighthouse tower.

“Come on up. It’s only 101 steps!” Came John’s voice from above.

Exclamation Points are only used after true exclamations or orders. Don’t emphasize simple statements by using exclamation points.

  • Example (simple statement): It was wonderful weather.
  • Example (exclamatory statement): What wonderful weather!
  • Example (order): Stop him!


Was this helpful for your writing? Leave comments below. Join me next week for more about punctuation.

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