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Friday, May 8, 2009

Punctuating Close Quotes in Four Easy Lessons, Part III

Today guest blogger Boyd Sutton will be helping out with easy rules and examples for "Closing Quotes with Dashes." If you missed parts I and II just scroll down a bit!

By Boyd Sutton

Punctuating Dashes and Close Quotes

A single dash may be used to indicate that a statement within quotes is incomplete. In such cases, put the dash before the closing quotation mark.

Wrong: John said, “I don’ believe that he”-

Right: John said, “I don’ believe that he-” (Note there is no terminal punctuation after the dash.)

An em-dash (double dash) follows the close quotation mark if the dash belongs to the sentence housing the quotation, but not to the quotation.

Right: He said, “You’ll never take me alive”—and jumped from the roof. (Note there is no punctuation before the close quote.

Tomorrow we'll cover punctuating closing quotes with question marks and exclamation points.
Boyd Sutton is producer and editor of the Wisconsin Writers’ Journal, a quarterly publication of the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association . His articles, essays, and short stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines. He is a freelance editor and has won many writing awards, including the Jade Ring, Wisconsin’s most prestigious writing award, for his essay, “Owning Your Own Time—Managing Your Retirement.” He may be reached at This article first appeared in the 2008 winter edition of the Wisconsin Writers’ Journal.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at Learn more about her other authors' aids at, where writers will find lists and other helps on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog.

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