punctuation – Why does the multi-paragraph quotation rule exist? – English Language & Usage Stack Exchange

The answer to this question clearly explains the standard rule that when you have multiple quoted paragraphs, each new paragraph starts with an opening quotation mark, but only the final quoted paragraph has a closing quotation mark at its end.

This Wikipedia article on Quotation Marks agrees:

Quotation marks are used for multiple-paragraph quotations in some cases, especially in narratives. The convention in English is to give opening quotation marks to the first and each subsequent paragraph, using closing quotation marks only for the final paragraph of the quotation [ . . . ]

However, neither explains why this is the standard practice. What good does it do? What is it trying to avoid? What harm would occur if it were ignored and people put both opening and closing quotation marks on each adjacent quoted paragraph?

up vote 157 down vote accepted


“That seems like an odd way to use punctuation,” Tom said. “What harm would there be in using quotation marks at the end of every paragraph?”

“Oh, that’s not all that complicated,” J.R. answered. “If you closed quotes at the end of every paragraph, then you would need to reidentify the speaker with every subsequent paragraph.

“Say a narrative was describing two or three people engaged in a lengthy conversation. If you closed the quotation marks in the previous paragraph, then a reader wouldn’t be able to easily tell if the previous speaker was extending his point, or if someone else in the room had picked up the conversation. By leaving the previous paragraph’s quote unclosed, the reader knows that the previous speaker is still the one talking.”


via punctuation – Why does the multi-paragraph quotation rule exist? – English Language & Usage Stack Exchange

Understanding Hyphens and Dashes (Microsoft Word 7 and above)

Word supports the use of both hyphens and dashes. Actually, it supports three types of hyphens and two types of dashes. It is important to understand how Word handles each of these as they can affect the appearance of your document. Regular hyphens. These are created by simply typing the hyphen key. This is the key that is to the right of the zero key on the keyboard. It is sometimes mistakenly called a dash key.

Regular hyphens are used to create compound words, such as “mix-up,” or to indicate a minus sign in an equation. If a compound word appears near the end of a line, the second word will be displayed on the next line, if necessary, with the first word and hyphen remaining on the previous line.

Optional hyphens. These are created by pressing Ctrl+- (Ctrl and the hyphen key). Optional hyphens are typically used in the middle of a word, between syllables, to indicate where a word should be broken between lines if Word deems it necessary. Optional hyphens are the type inserted automatically when you use the Hyphenation tool in Word. The optional hyphen does not appear on any printout unless it is actually used at the end of a line.

Non-breaking hyphens. These are created by pressing Ctrl+Shift+- (Ctrl+Shift and the hyphen key). Non-breaking hyphens are used in compound words to indicate that both words and the hyphen should be treated as a single word when Word is forming lines. In this case, the compound word will never be broken over two lines. It is also helpful to use non-breaking hyphens in phone numbers.

En dash. An en dash is a typographic dash that is as wide as a lowercase “n” character. These dashes are typically used to denote ranges of numbers, as in 3–7. You create an en dash by pressing Ctrl and the minus sign on the numeric keypad. You can also create it by holding down the Alt key as you type 0150 on the numeric keypad. If necessary, Word will break a line right after the en dash, not before it. In other words, the en dash always stays with the characters immediately preceding it. Em dash. An em dash is a typographic dash that is supposed to be as wide as a lowercase “m” character. In Word, however, the em dash is twice as wide as the en dash. (The width of the em-dash can vary from font to font.)

Em dashes are used in creating breaks in sentences between two separate thoughts. Word will substitute an em dash automatically as you are typing if you type a word, two hyphens in a row, and another word. You can also explicitly enter an em dash if you press Ctrl+Alt and the minus sign on the numeric keypad. You can also enter one by holding down the Alt key as you type 0151 on the numeric keypad. If necessary, Word will break a line right after the em dash, not before it. The em dash always stays with the word immediately before it.

Source: Understanding Hyphens and Dashes (Microsoft Word)

Semicolons in the Chicaco Manual of Style

SemicolonsDisplay All Answers

Q. My question is about the proper use of semicolons. My editor wants me to use the following construct when I use “that is” or “for example”: “You can tailor much of the desktop environment; for example, the background window.”

A. CMOS does not support such use of the semicolon; semicolons—when not separating items in a syntactically complex series—should separate independent clauses:Deep-dish pizza has anchored me to the Midwest; that is, I’m unwilling to give it up and too heavy to leave.When an expression like “that is” is used to introduce a dependent clause, use a dash (or two) or parentheses:Having only one thing in common—namely, a knowledge of English—we decided to call it off.Snow is great until you have to do something about it (e.g., rescue injured skiers).

Hair loss was not much of a problem outdoors in 1910—in other words, back when you were expected to wear a hat.

« CloseQ.

Is the use of semicolons in the following series warranted (i.e., when the commas appear in the last member of the series and there’s no real threat of misreading)? It just looks weird to me: They were hunter-gatherers who sustained themselves by hunting; fishing; and gathering roots, berries, and various wild plants. A. You are right! The semicolons are pointless and counterproductive. They should be changed to commas. « Close

Source: Topic Q&A List