Aug 222011
 

This guest post is by Aman Basanti of Ageofmarketing.com.

Quotes and dialogue are one of the most powerful tools in the writer’s toolbox. They bring your writing to life. They give your piece voice and make the words jump off the page. As the famous writer Stephen King once said, “What people say often conveys their character to others in ways of which they—the speakers—are completely unaware.”

Speaker

Copyright Gino Santa Maria – Fotolia.com

While most bloggers understand the power of quotes, they do not know how to format them properly. This post is a crash course in how to use and punctuate quotes in your writing.

Please note that there are exceptions to some of these rules (depending on whether you use the American standard or the UK standard). But for most part if you follow these rules you will be fine.

How to capitalize a quote

All quotes should be capitalized, except for fragments. If your quotes are not capitalised, your readers may think it is a partial quote with the ellipsis omitted.

Even when you quote someone mid-sentence, you should capitalise the quote.

As George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

How to extend a quote over multiple paragraphs

Say you want to break up the following quote into two paragraphs:

“I always say to people,” said Archer in an interview, “don’t write about goblins; don’t write about wizards just because they’re in. Write what you feel at ease with. Always remember Jane Austen. [She] lived in a small village, and wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of four daughters. Then she wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of three daughters. Then she wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of two daughters.”

Most people open and close the quote in each paragraph:

“I always say to people,” said Archer in an interview, “don’t write about goblins; don’t write about wizards just because they’re in. Write what you feel at ease with.”

“Always remember Jane Austen. [She] lived in a small village, and wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of four daughters. Then she wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of three daughters. Then she wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of two daughters.”

The correct way of doing this is not to close the quote at the end

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