Punctuating Dialogue - Level 1
Whether you spell it dialog or dialogue, no doubt you’re going to have it in your fics. After all, people have to talk to each other. So, let’s make sure you’re doing it correctly, so readers can focus on the conversations and not quirks of punctuation. In this post, we’re starting with the basics—level 1—and will cover more rules in future posts, so stay tuned. But let’s get started:
Single lines of dialogue end in a period (or other sentence-ending punctuation marks like ! or ?) inside the closed quotation marks.
- “That guy is super nice.”
- “Which guy?”
- “The guy from statistics class!”
Single lines of dialogue followed by a dialog tag (he said, she said, he exclaimed, etc.) always use commas at the end of dialogue inside the quotation marks. The period goes at the end of the dialog tag, ending the sentence.
- “I heard you’re interested in dancing,” Peter said.
The dialogue tag is always lowercase after the comma and quotation marks.
- “I do like to dance,” said Mary Jane.
The only exception to the comma rule are exclamation points and question marks inside the quotation marks. Despite the fact that these are sentence-ending punctuation marks, the dialogue tags are still lowercase.
- “Does Thor like me?” Steve asked.
- “Sure he does!” cried Hawkeye.
You can also put dialogue tags before the dialogue if you want to, but you start with the tag and follow with a comma, ending the sentence with a period or question or exclamation point.
- Hannibal said, “Why don’t you sit down and tell me about that, Will?”