How to Punctuate Dialogue
To make sure
your dialogue is laid out effectively, keep in mind the following general rules:
Every time a new speaker says something, you start a new
to me,” said Tim.
If a speaker says something, then follows what he said with an
action or a thought, then says something else, you do not need to start a new paragraph for the second thing
he says. For example:
to me,” said Tim. He picked up the pitchfork and brandished it threateningly. “If you don’t, you’ll be
If you use a speech tag like ‘he said’, ‘she groaned’, ‘he
mimicked’ etc (that is, ‘said’ or any substitute for ‘said’), the dialogue preceding the speech tag should
have a comma, an
exclamation mark or a
question mark before the
closing set of inverted commas, not a full stop.
In addition, the word ‘said’ or its substitute should not begin with a capital
letter. For example:
Every word a character actually says out loud should be enclosed
in inverted commas. For example:
You’ve probably seen some books
which use single quote marks like this:
‘No way,’ said Brian.
and other books which use double quote marks like this:
“No way,” said Brian.
reason is simply different standards in different countries. If you are marketing your work to an Australian or
English publisher, use single quote marks for speech. If you are marketing your book in America, use double