When writing an essay for school, work or publication keep in mind the plagiarism laws that protect intellectual property. Any quotations used need to be properly marked and cited. Using quotations that are dialogue from a book, play or a program requires specific formatting.
Dialogue from a Book
Use double quotation marks (") around the entire quotation, if it is less than four lines. These signify that an excerpt from a resource is being used.
Use a single quotation mark (') around the words that are actually dialogue within a quote.
Example: “'Teaching,' said Moody. 'Teach — Moody, is that a student?' shrieked Professor McGonagall, the books spilling out of her arms.” (from "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" by JK Rowling. Scholastic: 2000, p.206.)
Use a set-off quotation for excerpts that are four lines or more. Indent the entire quotation, but do not use quotation marks around the excerpt. You will use them around the dialogue.
Example: They spent the rest of the lesson taking notes on each of the Unforgivable Curses. No one spoke until the bell rang — but when Moody had dismissed them and they had left the classroom, a torrent of talk burst forth. Most people were discussing the curses in awed voices — "Did you see it twitch?" "— and when he killed it — just like that!" (Ibid., p. 218)
Do not close the dialogue with a quotation mark at the end of a paragraph if the same speaker continues dialogue at the beginning of the next paragraph. You will use a single quotation mark at the beginning of the second paragraph, then a single mark at the end of the quoted dialogue. Double quotation marks will be around the entire excerpt (unless the passage is longer than four lines.)
Example: “'He is at Hogwarts, that faithful servant, and it was through his efforts that our young friend arrived here tonight....
'Yes,' said Voldemort...'Harry Potter has kindly joined us for my rebirthing party. One might go so far as to call him my guest of honor.'” (Ibid. p 652)
Dialogue From a Play or Script
Format dialogue quotations for one speaker in a screenplay or dramatic script the same as you would from a book, as described in Section 1. If the quoted dialogue is four lines or less, use double quotations around the passage.
Example: When Juliet says, "wherefore art thou, Romeo?" she is actually pining over why he is her family enemy rather than a more appropriate suitor. (Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet," 2.2)
Use a set-off quotation just as you do for long passages if you are quoting dialogue for two or more speakers. Indent the entire passage, but do not use quotation marks.
Type each character's name in capitals, followed by a period.
Example: MACBETH. This is a sorry sight. [Looking at his hands] LADY MACBETH. A foolish thought to say a sorry sight. MACBETH. There's one did laugh in sleep, and one cried "Murder!" That they did wake each other. I stood and heard them; But they did say their prayers, and addressed them. Again to sleep.
(Shakespeare, "MacBeth," 2. 2. 21-26)
Based in Gloucester, Va., Janet Wooldridge is a freelance writer and proofreader who began writing professionally in 2008. Her work focuses on topics in education, environmentalism, child care, research and tourism. She holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in secondary education from the University of Florida.