Punctuation in Dialogue | The Editor’s Blog

Here is another Beth Hill punctuation guide, this time with regards to dialogue. She provides examples and explanations as to why she stylizes her works this way. Here are some of the tips:

Single line of dialogue, no dialogue tag
The entire sentence, including the period (or question mark or exclamation point) is within the quotation marks.

“He loved you.”

Single line with dialogue tag (attribution) following
The dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks. A comma follows the dialogue and comes before the closing quotation mark. A period ends the sentence. Punctuation serves to separate the spoken words from other parts of the sentence.

Because the dialogue tag—she said—is part of the same sentence, it is not capped.

“He loved you,” she said.

Single line with dialogue tag first
The comma still separates the dialogue tag from the spoken words, but it is outside the quotation marks, and the period is inside the quotation marks.

She said, “He loved you.”

Single line of dialogue with dialogue tag and action
The dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks. A comma follows the dialogue and comes before the closing quotation mark. The dialogue tag is next and the action follows the tag—no capital letter because this is part of the same sentence—with a period to end the sentence.

“He loved you,” she said, hoping Sue didn’t hear her.

The action and dialogue tag can also come first.

Leaning away, she said, “He loved you.”

Dialogue interrupted by dialogue tag
Dialogue can be interrupted by a tag and then resume in the same sentence. Commas go inside the first set of quotation marks and after the dialogue tag (or action).

“He loved you,” she said, “but you didn’t care.”

“He loved you,” she said, hoping to provoke a reaction, “but you didn’t care.”

Separating this into two sentences also works. The first sentence will end with a period and the second will begin with a capital letter.

“He loved you,” she said, hoping to provoke a reaction. “But you didn’t care.”

For more click here.

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