How to Format Quotation Marks in APA

In citing sources, it’s crucial to be precise, and punctuation marks help guide readers through complex ideas. Among these marks, quotation marks are particularly important. They help clarify linguistic examples and highlight titles effectively. Below is a simple guide on when to use and when to avoid using quotation marks in APA Style.

HOW TO USE QUOTATION MARKS IN CITATIONS

In APA Style, it is recommended to enclose Periodical Titles and Book Chapters within double quotation marks when citing them in your text. This practice helps to clearly distinguish these titles from surrounding text and adhere to the standards of citation consistency. By employing this convention, students can ensure their citations are accurately formatted and easily recognizable within the context of their scholarly work.

REFERENCING PERIODICAL TITLES

When citing a periodical article within your text, it’s crucial to accurately present the title without unnecessary punctuation. Here’s how to do it:

Example
Briscall, Sarah. “The Early Years: Unlocking Potential.” Journal of Child Development, vol. 15, no. 2, 2024, pp. 45-62.

In this example, note the periodical title, “The Early Years: Unlocking Potential.” is in double quotation marks. This format is consistent with APA Style guidelines, allowing readers to identify and locate the referenced work effortlessly.

CITING BOOK CHAPTERS

Similarly, when referencing a chapter from a book, adherence to APA Style rules ensures consistency and professionalism. Let’s break down the process:

Example
Briscall, Sarah. “Nurturing Young Minds.” Early Childhood Education: A Comprehensive Guide, edited by Luke Lowe, Harper, 2024, pp. 75-92.

In this instance, the book chapter title, “Nurturing Young Minds.” is enclosed in double quotation marks, maintaining uniformity with APA guidelines. This approach facilitates clear communication and proper attribution within scholarly writing.

WHEN TO USE QUOTATION MARKS IN AN APA PAPER

  • To Refer to a Letter: The encryption code includes the letter “Q” as a key component.
  • To Refer to a Word: The word “onomatopoeia” is an example of a word that imitates a sound.
  • To Refer to a Phrase: The phrase “out of the blue” is often used to describe something unexpected.
  • To Refer to a Sentence: The sentence “I love ice cream” expresses a personal preference.
  • To Refer to a Linguistic: The letter “x” often represents an unknown variable in mathematical equations.
  • To Refer to a Stimuli Presentation: The participants were presented with letters such as “A,” “B,” and “C” to assess their visual recognition skills.
  • To Refer to a Verbatim Reproduction: The manual instructs users to input their “full name” and “email address” before proceeding.
  • To Refer to an Ironic Commentary and Coined Expressions: She referred to his excuse as a “get out of jail free” card, implying its convenient nature.
  • To Refer to a Periodical Titles and Book Chapters: In her article “The Importance of Early Education,” Lowe emphasizes the significance of early childhood development.

Punctuation Placement: Remember to place punctuation marks such as commas and periods inside the quotation marks. This practice enhances readability and adheres to APA guidelines. 

Quoting Translations: When quoting a translated text, include the original language text in square brackets after the translated quote. This ensures clarity and transparency regarding the source material.

Quoting Personal Communication: For personal communication, such as interviews, letters, emails, or conversations, use the phrase “personal communication” in-text. 

WHEN NOT TO USE QUOTATION MARKS IN AN APA PAPER

  • Key Terms and Phrases: Key terms and phrases, such as specialized vocabulary or definitions, should not be enclosed in quotation marks. This includes terms like resilience or definitions like awareness of the present moment.
  • Scale Anchors: When referring to scale anchors, such as those in Likert scales, quotation marks are unnecessary. These anchors, like strongly disagree or strongly agree, are considered standard terminology.
  • Numerals: Numerals representing specific quantities or symbols, like 10 for a decade, do not require quotation marks. They are understood as literal representations without the need for additional punctuation.
  • Hedge Meaning: Quotation marks should not be used to hedge or downplay meaning. Expressions like gratitude should be presented without quotation marks, allowing for clear and direct communication.

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Tomas Elliott (MA)

Tomas Elliott is completing a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has taught academic writing, research methodologies, and citation practices.

Learn how to cite in APA