Basic rules of good writing

Periods and commas ALWAYS go inside quotations.


She said, "I'm not hungry."

"I will not go with you," she replied, tossing her long blond hair.

When a speech continues in the middle of a quoted phrase, sets it apart with commas. The second part is NOT capitalized for it's a continuation of the first sentence in the first half of the quoted.


"I don't care," she lashed out, "what you think of me."

"Do what you want," Nick scoffed, "if that's how you feel."

Or if sense calls for it, begin a new sentence.


"I don't mind," she said. "What do you think I should do?"

Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.


Jaime said, "Steve told me 'forget it.' "

Or use the passive voice.


Jamie said, "Steve told me to forget it."

Begin a new paragraph with a change of speaker. Double space your dialogues from your descriptions, unless they both apply to the same person.


In the background, Jarrod was pondering at Nick's question.

"Well?" Nick asked, somewhat impatient.

"I'm thinking," Jarrod retorted.

Jarrod started pacing, dithering over whether or not to help his brother or turn his
back on his best friend. Finally, he stopped, looked at Nick and said, "Okay, I'll do


Use ellipses when you want to specify a beat within a dialogue (a speaker pauses before continuing his speech) or you want the line to tail off (the speaker is too choked up to finish his sentence)


"When you said you were leaving...I flew off the handle."

"When I saw him all bloody and half dead, I just...", her voice faltered as she
strived to contain her emotions.

"I'd like to...that is...if you don't mind."

If a question or exclamation mark is part of the quote, then both go inside the quotations.


"Enough of this!" he shouted.

Oscar observed, "Will Steve be ready for this mission?"

A single question mark is enough to end a quoted question or within a question. Or if you have a exclamation within a quoted phrase.


"What do you mean 'What do I mean?' " she fumed.

"Didn't Steve asked, 'Where's Jaime?' "

" 'Boy howdy!' is his favorite expression."

If a question ends with an exclamation mark, this one will supplant the question and will be enough to end the sentence, without double quotations.


Wasn't it Jarrod who said, "Brother Nick is insufferable!"

For quotations longer than a single paragraph, put quotation marks at the BEGINNING of each paragraph, but ONLY at the end of the final quoted word. And the first paragraph has NO closing quotations. They do, however, open the second paragraph to show that the quotation continues.


Oscar continued: "We lost two of our best agents during that operation. One of
them, Tom Bradford, was working on the Gamma Project when they captured him
and we suspect they might have succeeded in extracting top secret information
from him before they killed him.

"Steve, I don't have to tell you that this mission is perilous, but you're the only one
who can pull it off."

Capitalize academic positions or titles when used before a person's name.


Oscar Goldman, director of the Office of Scientific Intelligence
Director of OSI, Oscar Goldman

Steve Austin, colonel in the US Air Force
Colonel Steve Austin, US Air Force

Jarrod Barkley, attorney in Stockton
Attorney Jarrod Barkley

Abbreviate the following titles when they precede a name. Don't forget the period.


Col. Steve Austin
Mrs. Victoria Barkley
Mr. Oscar Goldman
Ms. Valerie Hancock
Dr. Merar
Rev. Sweeney

Nouns that substitute proper nouns are capitalized. Otherwise, they're not.


"Mother, don't exhaust yourself," Heath said.
"I don't want my mother to exhaust herself," Heath said.

"Doctor Wells is with Steve right now," Oscar said.
"Rudy Wells is Steve's doctor," Oscar said.

"Pay attention, Cowboy!" warned Nick.
"That cowboy is stubborn as a mule," Nick observed.

"Dear Sir, I will do as you asked," Silas replied.
"Dinner is served, sir," said Silas.

"Good Lady, I am sorry," Steve repented.
"She's a good lady."

Organization and agency names are ALWAYS capitalized.


Office of Scientific Intelligence or O.S.I.
Federal Bureau of Investigation or F.B.I.
Central Intelligence Agency or C.I.A.

Note: It is allowed to omit the periods and simply write: OSI, FBI and CIA.

The possessive case of singular nouns is formed by adding "s". The possessive of plural nouns by adding an apostrophe ONLY.


Nick's boots
The children's books
The men's locker room
The horses' tails
A ladies' man

The apostrophe is dropped from possessive when they become part of the official designations or titles.


Washington State University Visitors Bureau
Director of Students Office

The general rule also applies to singular nouns and proper names ending in "s".


Burns's attitude
The ID pass's restrictions

Careful of plural possessive.


It is the Barkley Ranch but the ranch is owned by the Barkleys, that instead of the
Barkleys' Ranch.

The OSI files instead of The OSI's files.

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