Fundamental Rules for Writing Dialog

How to write dialog correctly.

The following are the fundamental rules of dialog. If you follow these rules, your dialog will be consistent, and you’ll be less likely to confuse your reader.

Quoting a Single Line of Dialog

Place dialog within double-quotes. Em-dashes, or long dashes, are sometimes used to begin dialog in European countries. Single quotes are never used to quote dialog.

Note that what’s being said along with the terminating punctuation are included within the double-quotes.

Quoting Multiple Lines of Dialog

Multiple sentences should be quoted using a single pair of double-quotes, even if those sentences span multiple paragraphs.

Attributing Dialog to a Person

To attribute a quote to someone, conclude the quote with a comma, and then add a reference to the person that said the quote.

Separating Dialog Between Multiple People

As the speaker changes, specify the dialog for each new speaker using a new paragraph.

Naming the Person Being Addressed

“Excuse me, Mr. William. Would you please step this way?”
“Billy, you useless sack of flesh,” Pa bellowed. “Get yourself over here right now before I take my belt to ya!”