The Editor's Manual
Free learning resource on English grammar, punctuation, usage, and style.
Enclose speech in quotation marks. Use a comma to separate quoted speech from the speaker, but don’t use a comma after a question mark or exclamation point. Use a new line for each speaker in a conversation.
Commas and periods always go inside quotes in American style. In British style, they go inside only if they apply to the quoted text. In all styles, question marks and exclamation points go inside only if they apply to the quoted text.
A question mark or exclamation point goes inside quotes when it is meant to punctuate the quoted text, but outside if it applies to the larger sentence.
Periods always go inside quotation marks in American usage. In British usage, a period (or full stop) goes inside only if the quotation is a complete sentence.
Commas always go inside quotation marks in American style. In British style, commas go inside or outside depending on whether they punctuate the text within quotes or the surrounding sentence.
Scare quotes indicate that a word or a phrase is being used in some nonstandard way or to indicate irony or disdain.
Use single inside double quotation marks to show a quote within a quote in US style. In British style, use double inside single quotes.
Double quotes generally enclose text in US style; single quotes, in British. Single quotes are used only for quotes within quotes in US style; double quotes, in British. Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks in US style but not in British.
Double quotes enclose text in US style, with single quotes used only for quotes within quotes. Single quotes are the default in British and Australian style, with double quotes reserved for quotes within quotes.
Use just one period, not two, after an abbreviation like “etc.” even when it appears in quotes at the end of a sentence. Don’t add another period after the closing quotation mark.