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Using quotes


This is a short lesson explaining the usage of quotes in journalistic stories. Students will use examples from professional and scholastic media to learn to recognize and implement best practices for quote usage.


  • Students will be able to understand the need and uses of quotes.
  • Students will be able to punctuate quotes correctly.

 Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


Two days


Slideshow: Using quotes

Quiz: Using quotes and key

Select journalistic stories to read aloud to students. Include topics and styles that will draw students in. Use the archives of your school’s publications, stories from professionals or from websites like the ones listed below. Have copies ready before class to read aloud.

Lesson step-by-step

Day One

1. Tap prior knowledge — 3 minutes

As a brief warm-up, ask students to share the significance of direct quotes in journalistic writing. Remind them of the value of meaningful first-hand accounts, personal perspectives and other benefits of quotes in stories.

2. Marking a text — 7-10 minutes

Distribute copies of news or feature stories that use quotes effectively. (Select a story from the sources above or one from a current newspaper.) The class may have the same story, or you may decide to have multiple stories around the room so students can meet in small groups with others reading the same story. Assign students to highlight the quotes in the article.

3. Group work — 5 minutes

Pair students together or assign them to find others who read the same story to compare which areas they highlighted.

4. Introduce key concept — 5 minutes

Explain what an attributive verb is. (This is a verb that follows the name of the person who spoke in the quote or dialogue.)

5. Practice — 5 minutes

Instruct students to circle all the attributive verbs. Make a list in order down the back of the copy of the story.

6. Group share — 10 minutes

As a class, call on students to share results. Most of the attributive verbs should be “said.” Lead discussion of why it doesn’t get repetitive. (If the quotes are great, the attributive verb does little to enhance a story. “Said” does not distract when surrounded by meaningful quotes.)

7. Practice — 5 minutes

Next, students will analyze how each quote is punctuated by working in pairs. (For students who need more direction, give them copies of these questions for guidance.)

  • End marks inside or outside the quote marks?
  • Speaker and attributive verb at the beginning, middle or end of quote?
  • When is a comma used with a quote mark?”

Students will record the consistencies they see.

8. Closure — 15-20 minutes

Call on pairs to share observations. Write each guideline so it is visible to the class. Answer any remaining questions and review the guidelines for punctuating quotes in preparation for a quiz the following day.

Day 2

Quiz — 30 minutes