Punctuation in citations

“Should I put punctuation after quotation marks? The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Three rules are described below. If you are using the APA style, make sure you always follow rule 2.

1. Don’t add anything (just use the quote’s final punctuation)

Peters (1986) indicated the following: “All of the research carried out previously now has no value.”

In her study, Trap (1962) asked: “How should the data be obtained?”

The customer who could not use the discount exclaimed: “I do not agree with this!”

He said: “It’s a difficult issue.”

2. Put the period after the citation

This rule is important to follow if you are using the APA style.

Peters (1986) wrote: “All of the research carried out previously now has no value” (p. 3).

As discussed herein, the next question was “How should the data be obtained?” (Trap, 1962, pp. 44-45).

According to a recent study, a customer who could not use the discount exclaimed: “I do not agree with this!” (Smith, 1999, p. 22).

He said, “That’s a tough question” (Noise Maker, 2010, p. 5).

Please note that with quotes longer than 40 words, the quoted text (which should not be put in quotation marks) should end with a punctuation mark. The citation then follows (without a period).

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3. Put a question mark or exclamation point after closing the quote

It’s not common to use this option in papers, because this kind of construction is rare in academic writing.

Two question marks> Did this give rise to the question “How has obtained the data?”?

Two exclamation points> He could not really say “I do not agree with this!”!

A question mark after text without punctuation> Did he not respond “That’s a difficult issue”?

See the rules for quoting according to the APA style

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Sarah Vinz

Sarah's academic background includes a Master of Arts in English, a Master of International Affairs degree, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She loves the challenge of finding the perfect formulation or wording and derives much satisfaction from helping students take their academic writing up a notch.

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