Rule 1. Use quotation marks and commas to separate speech from the speech tags.

Example: -“Hello,” he said.

-He said hello.

-“I’m here,” she whispered.

Rule 2. Quotation marks (?) and exclamation points (!) go inside quotation marks and can take the place of commas.

Example: -“Who are you?” she asked.

-He shouted, “Damn!”

Rule 3. The period goes at the end of the sentence, not at the end of the speech.

Example:   –“I hate him.  I hate you,” he said.

-He said, “I hate him.  I hate you.”

-“Where am I?”  I asked.

-“No way!” she said.  “It wasn’t me.”

-“No,” he said, “it wasn’t me.”

Rule 4. Use a variety of speech verbs and adverbs.  A speech tag should

Only be used to it may be unclear who is speaking.  If it is clear, a speech tag does NOT have to be used.

Example:   –“…” he said loudly/quietly/fearfully/boldly/angrily

-Billy frowned.  “I’m mad!”

Rule 5. In a dialogue, new speakers get a new line and an indent.  It counts as a new paragraph.

Example:   – “Where are you?” I asked.

She responded, “I’m over here.”

Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Dialogue Punctuation Rules," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,

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