It’s right in the name — quotation marks go around a quote, which is something someone said. Here are the details:
- Periods and commas always go within quotation marks, unless you’re quoting an exact word or phrase where the addition of the punctuation would be inaccurate.
- All other punctuation: determine if it applies to the whole sentence. If so, it goes outside the quotation. If the punctuation only applies to what’s within the quotation marks, it goes inside them.
- Single quotation marks should be used only for a quote within a quote, or for a quote within a headline.
- If a running quotation spans multiple paragraphs, you only need the closing quotation mark on the last paragraph. (You still need opening quotation marks at the beginning of each new paragraph in the quote.)
But they don’t stop there. Add quotes around terms or phrases your audience may not be familiar with (i.e., jargon), or to call out words or phrases you’re referring to.
Quotation marks are also used when referencing books or movies, or to be ironic.