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April 18, 2013

Punctuation Junction: Question Marks and Quotation Marks

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Punctuation Junction: A series about what Man at two roadshappens when punctuation marks collide.

The proper use of question marks and quotation marks in combination all depends on context: Namely, are you (a) quoting a question or (b) asking a question of a quotation? Let’s look at the two scenarios and how they impact punctuation.

1. When the quotation itself is a question, put the question mark inside the quotation marks.

  • Correct: Participants were asked, “How many days, on average, have you felt depressed over the past 2 weeks?”
  • Incorrect: Participants were asked, “How many days, on average, have you felt depressed over the past 2 weeks”?

2. When the sentence as a whole is a question, but the quoted material is not, put the question mark outside the quotation marks.

  • Correct: To what degree will social desirability influence participants’ responses to the statement “I always remember to take my medication as prescribed”?
  • Incorrect: To what degree will social desirability influence participants’ responses to the statement “I always remember to take my medication as prescribed?”

For more on how quotation marks work, see APA Publication Manual §4.07. Stay tuned for more Punctuation Junction posts coming soon! 

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