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How should I use quotation marks in sections of multi-line dialogue?

Sometimes when reading, I will see a " at the beginning of a paragraph [When someone is speaking]. It is not closed anywhere, and at the end of the paragraph, there is no ending ". How come?

  • Voting to close on the grounds that this is a typesetting issue, which I believe should be dealt with on writers.se Jun 30, 2011 at 23:33

2 Answers 2


When a quotation is more than one paragraph long, double quotes are placed at the beginning and end of quote and at the beginning of each paragraph. The unclosed quote serves as a reminder that you are still reading a quotation.

A paragraph that begins with a double quote should also contain a closing double quote, or be followed by a paragraph that also begins with a double quote.

  • I think we're supposed to go through some sort of ritual now that involves one of us hitting the other for some reason, and claiming that returning the gesture is absolutely forbidden by the rules...
    – bye
    Jun 30, 2011 at 17:05
  • 1
    @Stan @jim No hitting. We're adults here. On EL&U, we employ the "jinx-Coke" exchange.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Jun 30, 2011 at 17:13
  • @Kit thanks for correcting my typo. Don't know how I made that mistake.
    – jimreed
    Jun 30, 2011 at 17:28
  • @Stan it looks like I type just a little faster than you do.
    – jimreed
    Jun 30, 2011 at 17:29

Double quotes are closed at the end of the "speech act". As long as the same person is speaking, each new paragraph starts with an opening quotation mark, but the closing quotation mark doesn't happen until the person is finished speaking.

  • I don't want to nit-pick, but since it seems silly for me to upvote two answers, I'll have to justify myself. @jimreed's answer refers to "quotations", where yours has "speech acts". The former is better, since the usage we're talking about applies equally to quoted text (fromm another publication, for example) that may never have been spoken. Jun 30, 2011 at 20:32
  • 3
    In a typeset document, extended quotations from another written source would normally be set as a block quotation without quotation marks.
    – bye
    Jun 30, 2011 at 21:07
  • Agreed. But so far as I know, if full typesetting facilities aren't available, or aren't used for some other reason, the same rules apply to speech and quoted text. Jun 30, 2011 at 21:12
  • 1
    Even in a typescript created on a manual typewriter, a change in the left margin (or begin and end block indications, if indicated in the style manual for a publication) would be correct. Even newspapers will use a call-out box in their narrow columns. Doing things otherwise is ignoring the convention for block quotations -- that doesn't make the dialog quotation style correct.
    – bye
    Jun 30, 2011 at 21:56
  • I don't get what you mean. Are you saying the issue doesn't arise because it's typographically incorrect not to use indentation or other demarcations for quoted text? Jun 30, 2011 at 23:00

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