The Use of Quotation Marks
For a single sentence of quotation, enclose only the speaker’s words in double quotation marks. If the attribution precedes the quotation, put a comma at the end of the attribution.
If the attribution follows the quotation, change the period at the end of the quotation to a comma and put the period at the end of the attribution.
For a direct quotation of two or more sentences with the attribution at the beginning of the first sentence, put a colon, not a comma, after the attribution and place the quotation in double quotation marks.
If the attribution is in the middle of a sentence or between two sentences, close the quotation marks before the attribution and reopen them after it. Use commas to separate the attribution from the quotation.
For quotations that continue for several sentences, all the sentences should be enclosed within a single set of quotation marks.
For direct quotations of more than one paragraph, place open quotation marks at the start of each new paragraph. Place close quotation marks at the end of only the last paragraph.
For a direct quotation that includes another quotation, use double quotation marks to identify the overall quotation and single quotation marks (or an apostrophe on the keyboard) to indicate the quotation within the quotation:
For a passage that has a quotation within a quotation within a quotation, use double quotation marks to indicate the third level of quotation, as in this example:
Placement of Punctuation
The comma or period at the end of the quotation should always be placed inside the quotation marks. Colons and semicolons should be outside the quotation marks. These rules have no exceptions. Whether a question mark or an exclamation point should appear inside or outside the quotation marks depends on the meaning. If the quotation is a question or exclamation, put the question mark or exclamation point inside the quotation marks. Otherwise, leave it outside the quotation marks:
The first word in a quotation that is a complete sentence is capitalized, but the first word in a partial quotation is not:
Word Order for Attribution
Journalists put the name of or pronoun for the speaker and the verb of attribution in their normal order, with the subject appearing before the verb. That is the way people talk, and it is usually the most graceful way to write:
However, if a long identifying or descriptive phrase follows the name of the speaker, the normal word order may be awkward. In that case, place the verb first and the subject second: