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How should I use quotation marks in sections of multi-line dialogue?
Why aren't double quotes always closed?

In some books I've read, the ending quote will be omitted if the paragraph ends with the character's line. Is this correct? If it is correct, in what cases is it correct?

  • 3
    That’s right. You do omit the end quotation mark at the end of a paragraph if the quotation does not end there but continues in the paragraph immediately following. Otherwise you cannot distinguish between two paragraphs each from different speakers versus two paragraphs both from the same speaker. See how that works? However, you always start a new paragraph with a quotation mark as required. – tchrist Jun 8 '12 at 0:25
  • I think it is not 'proper grammar', since it is typography, not exactly grammar then :o) – cedbeu Jun 8 '12 at 1:24
  • Really? Punctuation isn't grammar? – J.R. Jun 8 '12 at 2:16
  • 1
    @tchrist, you should post your comment as an answer. It gives the reason why you do this. – JLG Jun 8 '12 at 3:49
  • @J.R. indeed, punctuation is not grammar ... 'Punctuation' is a set of signs, just like 'alphabet' is. Thus, like alphabet is ruled by lexicon, syntax, morphology and typography, punctuation is ruled by lexicon (sometimes in some languages), syntax, morphology and typography. Here, the rule is a graphical arrangement, a visual sugar, and has strictly no incidence on the grammaticality. Then it's typography, and not grammar, definitely. – cedbeu Jun 12 '12 at 14:08

Some conventions call for the omission of a closing quotation mark if the dialog or quotation extends to another paragraph.

For example, if I were quoting the Gettysburg Address, I might punctuate it like so:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

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