All About Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags are important and essential to use in every story we write. Are they always needed? No, but we do need them from time to time in order to know which characters are talking to each other or to themselves. So this post is all about dialogue tags.

All About Dialogue Tags | Creative Writing | Writing Tips | Writing Advice | RachelPoli.com

What is a dialogue tag?

A dialogue tag is a tag that goes before, in between, or after a piece of dialogue. It’s that little quip that says, “he said” or “Rachel cheered.”

How do you use dialogue tags?

Well, as I said they can go before or after the dialogue or in between it. Depending on where you put the tag, you need to make sure your punctuation is correct to go along with the dialogue. For example…

Rachel asked, “Where were you last night?”

“Why are you asking?” Chase replied.

“Well,” Rachel sighed, “you didn’t answer any of my phone calls.”

When do you use dialogue tags?

This is sort of like personal preference but also you need to read your manuscript and see what makes sense.

If there’s two characters speaking to each other and the banter is quick, one right after another, you can get away without using dialogue tags. Of course, use them in the beginning to make sure your readers know who is speaking.

“I didn’t know you were trying to call.” Chase said.

“Um, maybe you should check your phone then?” Rachel replied.

“What did you want, anyway?”

“It doesn’t matter now.”

If there’s a lot of detail and description in between the dialogue, a tag doesn’t hurt to remind your readers who’s speaking next. Also, if there are more than two characters speaking with one another, it’s a good idea to use tags so they knows who’s talking.

“What’s all the bickering about?” Chip asked.

“I think Chase is hiding something from me.” Rachel answered.

“It’s not just from you.” Chase replied.

“See?” Rachel exclaimed.

“Guys, please…” Chip sighed.

Overall, dialogue tags are a great way to convey the message to your readers about who is speaking and how they’re saying it. Though it’s not always needed and your readers can always infer based on what they already know.

Do you use dialogue tags a lot? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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10 thoughts on “All About Dialogue Tags

    • I can agree with that. Especially if the kids are trying to read it themselves, depending on the age.
      Also, I’m glad you can comment again. 🙂 I don’t know what was wrong with the other post.

  1. I often use action instead of tags. “I think Chase is hiding something from me.” Rachel peeked out the window.
    “Where were yoiuy last night?” Rachel put her hands on her hips.

  2. Hi Rachel. I enjoyed reading your post on dialogue tags as it was very interesting… can I ask you if it is ok to use dialogue and action tags in the same sentence? Please can you write a post about this? Thanks in advance

    • Yes, dialogue tags and action tags can be one in the same. There’s already a post queued about action tags so that will be soon. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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