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Punctuation: Quotation Marks

Quotation Mark Basics

Quotations marks are used to denote language taken from another author or source.

Quotation Mark Placement

For titles. If referencing the title of a chapter or smaller section of a larger work, set off the title with quotation marks.

Example: The fourth chapter of the APA 7 manual, "Writing Style and Grammar," contains a lot of useful information.

In sentences. When copying language from any other source (including published texts, internet resources, marketing or business materials, test or interview questions, and more) into your paper, you must use quotation marks (and proper citation) to indicate the source. Direct quotations will never begin a sentence, but you might use them in the middle or at the end:

Middle: Christensen (2010) regarded the "infiltration of only red light" (p. 32) as a success in the experiment.
 
End: The experiment concluded with an analysis of what Franks et al. (2011) considered "a heightened fright" (para. 43).

Note that quotations longer than 40 words require block quotation formatting, which does not use quotation marks.

For more information about quotation marks, refer to APA 7, Section 6.7.

Quotations and Punctuation

Quotation marks should always face the quoted material. One set of quotation marks will show the beginning of the quote and the other will show when it ends. Leave no space between the quotation marks and the text they surround.

Correct: Samson (2010) stated, “Mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy” (p. 214).
Incorrect: Samson (2010) stated, ”Mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy“ (p. 214).
 
Missing quotation marks: Samson (2010) stated, Mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy (p. 214).

The sentence period should always go after a parenthetical citation.

Correct: Samson (2010) stated, "Mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy" (p. 214).
Incorrect: Samson (2010) stated, "Mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy." (p. 214).
 
Note: This sentence has double punctuation.
Incorrect: Samson (2010) stated, "Mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy." (p. 214) 
 
Note: This sentence will need to end with a period after the parentheses so there are no hanging parentheses.

Capitalization in Quotations

Capitalize the first word of the quotation when it is introduced as dialogue.

Example: Smith (2010) stated, “School is difficult” (p. 5).

Note that a comma precedes the quotation.

 
Example: Johnson (2017) reported, "Walden students should use APA" (p. 45).

Quotations are introduced as dialogue when writers use the following sentence structure: Author (Year) verb, "Quotations" (p. x). Note that a comma precedes the quotation.

 

Do not capitalize the first word of the quotation when it is integrated into the sentence.

Example: Smith (2010) reported that “school is difficult” (p. 5).

Note that no comma precedes the quotation.

 

Example: According to Samson (2010), "mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy" (p. 214).

Note that the first word in the quotation is not capitalized in this example since the quotation has been integrated into the sentence.

 

Additional Common Uses of Quotation Marks

Linguistic Clarification

Use quotation marks rather than italics to clarify linguistic examples. This is a new rule in APA 7. (APA 6 recommended using italics instead of quotation marks for linguistic examples.)

Example: The student struggled with the use of "their" "they're," and "there."

Introducing a Word or Phrase Used Ironically

Use quotation marks around words or phrases that are presented ironically. Use quotation marks only the first time the words or phrases are used, not for later uses.

Example: There were many instances of "friendly joking" that created a hostile workplace environment.

Do Not Use Quotation Marks in These Instances

Do not use a quotation mark in the following instances.

Key Terms

Use italics instead of quotation marks around key terms or scale anchors.

Example: The survey required participants to scale their responses from very bad to very good.
 
Example: For the purposes of this paper, the term participation will be defined as...

Note that after the first time you define a key term, you will format it normally.

Hedging

Do not use quotation marks to hint at a different meaning. Use more precise language instead.

Incorrect: The "orientation" turned out to be only a 2-hour meeting.
Correct: The orientation meeting lasted only 2 hours, which was not long enough to cover all topics sufficiently.