How To Format Dialogue

Dialogue is how we as writers show our characters talking. It’s a fairly simple concept, but formatting it isn’t always easy or straightforward. So, here’s how to format dialogue.

How To Format Dialogue | Creative Writing | Writing Tips |

Quotation Marks

Yeah, this is a given. Most dialogue is enclosed with quotation marks at the beginning and at the end of your character’s words. I’ve seen some stories where people don’t use quotations at all. I’m not sure if that depends based on where you are in the world or if that’s just a personal format choice from the author.

Quote Within Dialogue

A quote within a dialogue, or a character quoting someone else, is showed with single quotation marks around it.


Punctuation is tricky. I’ve seen people add it on the outside of the quotations, but it’s supposed to go inside the quotations. The punctuation is part of the sentence and the quotations is just like a cover of the sentence, so it doesn’t make sense for the period or question mark to be on the outside.


If the character is performing some sort of action before or after the dialogue, it goes in a separate sentence. However, if the character is doing it during the dialogue, their action is separated from the dialogue with a comma. If there is an action interrupting or in the middle of the dialogue, the next part of the dialogue starts with a lowercase letter.

New Paragraphs

We all know a new paragraph is indented as is when a new character speaks. It’s a new paragraph and is indented. When a character is speaking so much and a new paragraph is needed in the middle of it, there is no ending quotation. The next paragraph begins with a quotation and ends with one as well. It’s a continuation.

This is all common sense to people who have been writing for a while. Yet, we still sometimes make mistakes and some things are not always clear. Dialogue seems so simple and yet, look at the “rules” that go along with it.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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