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Guidelines for Using Dialogue

Dialogue is an essential part of stories and other writing. Below are three basic principles of using dialogue in your writing:

1.  Set up quotes with a comma.
--He said, “Good morning.”

2.  Put end punctuation INSIDE the quotation marks
--She replied, “Yes, it is a good morning.”
--“Yes, it is a good morning,” she replied.

3.  Create a new paragraph each time someone speaks.
-- Indent seven spaces or one Tab to create a new paragraph.


Here is a short example bit of dialogue showing all three of these guidelines:

Follow up Notes:

When the attribution of the speaker comes after the dialogue, the punctuation still goes inside the end quotation:

“Yes, it is a good morning,” she replied.

Also, you don't need to put a period at the end of the dialogue since the dialogue plus the attribution make up the sentence.

No: “Yes, it is a good morning.” She replied.
Yes: “Yes, it is a good morning,” she replied.

For more examples:
Look at almost any novel or story you are reading, and you will see these principles at work. For one example, look at this story written by Barak Obama in his book Dreams of My Father. Notice how the writer punctuates and handles dialogue. --Obama's Family Story


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