Quotation Mark

Resource Summary: This page presents information about the use and placement of quotation marks.
Last Updated: 05/17/11

Overview

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

Quotation Mark Placement

1. 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 manual, "The Mechanics of Style," contains a lot of useful information.

2. 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.

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.

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

No:  According to Samson (2010)," Mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy "(p. 214).

Missing quotation marks: According to Samson (2010), Mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy (p. 214).

The sentence period should always go after a parenthetical citation.

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

No: According to Samson (2010), "Mirror neurons allow for imitation and empathy." (p. 214). 
 Note: This sentence has double punctuation.

No: According to Samson (2010), "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.

Quotation Marks v. Italics

Do not use a quotation mark in the following instances.

1. Key terms.  Instead of using quotation marks around key terms or scale anchors, use italics.    

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.

2. Linguistic clarification.  Use italics, rather than quotation marks, to clarify linguistic issues.

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

3. 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 two-hour meeting.
Correct:  The orientation meeting lasted only two hours, which was not long enough to cover all topics sufficiently.

 

For more information about quotation marks, refer to section 4.07 of your APA manual.