1. Ollpheist
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    Ollpheist Member

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    Punctuation and Quotations

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Ollpheist, Aug 1, 2011.

    Is there a correct format for punctuation and quotations? I have seen a number of formats. For instance:

    "We need to get out of here," John said. "Let's go south."
    "We need to get out of here," John said, adding, "let's go south."

    Also, though it's rarer in creative works than factual ones, but just to cover the bases, how does one end material quoted by another? This could be useful information in providing actual quotes before a chapter, as some authors (like Dean Koontz) tend to do.

    Just coming up with a fictional quote here:

    "John Doe once told me, 'Never let your guard down.'" - John Smith
    "John Doe once told me, 'Never let your guard down'." - John Smith

    The first seems more correct to me.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    The first is more correct.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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  4. Seye
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    Seye Member

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    I enjoyed reading that link, Cogito. The more I learn about grammar/punctuation the better my writing feels.
     
  5. Ollpheist
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    Ollpheist Member

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    Thank you. No, really. Thank you. So much. I will be adding this to my favorites list and referring to it often until it becomes second nature.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's correct...
    that isn't... 'adding' makes the addition a sentence of its own, so its first word must be capitalized...

    first is correct, if the whole thing is a quote from smith... the second is incorrect in any case, since the period is improperly placed...
     
  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    In any US case, not in the British case.
     
  8. AfterBroadway
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    AfterBroadway Senior Member

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    Call me a copy-cat, but I've always liked Cormac McCarthy's way of dialogue. He doesn't use quotations at all. I know he's not the first to do this but he's the first I've read, and he also makes it incredibly fluid and easy to read. Writing this way if you haven't done it before can be a little tricky though. I've actually started writing things like this so I can fully understand how to use it effectively.
     
  9. Ella Frank
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    Ella Frank Member

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    This post extremly helpful!!! :) Thank you, now i am going to go back and read over my dialogue scenes

    Ella
    xx
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    dig... in the uk, too, since to be correct there, i believe it should be outside both marks, not placed between them...
     
  11. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Just to add that, when there is a single quotation mark and a double quotation mark side by side, I think you separate them by a space. I think.

    "John Doe once told me, 'Never let your guard down.' " - John Smith
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, there should be no space between them...
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The typesetter will have access to a variety of spaces, and may put a thin space -- much less than a normal space -- between the single and double quotes, but unless you are self-publishing that's not your responsibility.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the difference in spacing will depend on the spacing of the font being used... i can't imagine any typesetter adding a space between punctuation marks that should not be there...
     
  15. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a matter of kerning. Certainly there should not be a full space, as in the usual space between words, but it's entirely normal for the typesetter to slightly vary the spacing between characters to improve the visual appearance. The books I've seen recommend a thinspace (about a fifth or a sixth of an em) when single and double quotes collide, although modern software systems might apply acceptable kerning automatically so no further action would be needed by the typesetter. As I said earlier, it's not the author's problem, and the author shouldn't put any sort of space there.
     

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