How Do You Punctuate Dialogue?

Quotation Marks

Dialogue can be a bit intimidating. All that punctuation. But it’s really not that complicated. The usual practice is to put dialogue in quotes and place an attribution after it, separated with a comma inside the closing quote mark. The attribution will not be capitalized, because it’s part of the same sentence:

“Hello,” he said.

The only thing that’s a little weird is if the quote is a question, you still don’t capitalize the attribution, even though it sort of looks like you should:

“How?” he asked.

When using a character’s name, it’s best to place the name before the verb, as in

“Hello,” Mark said.

This has fallen out of style:

“Hello,” said Mark.

 You can also put the attribution first:

He said, “Hello.”

 That’s really about all there is to dialogue punctuation.

The other important rule is to change paragraphs each time you change speakers. This would be confusing:

“Hello,” he said. “How are you?” she asked.

But this isn’t:

“Hello,” he said.
“How are you?” she asked.