Just how to punctuate discussion tags and action beats precisely

Just how to punctuate discussion tags and action beats precisely

One small thing that drives numerous editors crazy is wrong punctuation of discussion and action beats.

Let’s focus on a meaning:

A discussion label is just a presenter verb such as for example “Tina stated.” It informs your visitors which character is talking.

An action beat is one thing a character does.

“I should really be going.” Tina edged toward the entranceway.

The speaker—they aren’t punctuated the same while dialogue tags and action beats can have the same function—identifying.


  • If your relative type of discussion is followed closely by a discussion label, make use of comma (or a concern mark or exclamation mark) ahead of the closing quote mark. In the event that very first term associated with discussion label is really a pronoun such she, lowercase it as he or.

Proper: “I do not have basic idea,” she said.

Proper: “Stop!” she shouted.

Correct: “Are you from the brain?” she asked.

Incorrect: “I haven’t any basic concept.” She stated.

  • In the event that discussion label precedes the type of dialogue, make use of comma ahead of the opening quote mark. Lowercase the discussion tag (unless it is a true name, needless to say).

Correct: She started the hinged home and called, “hi? Anybody house?”

  • In the event that discussion label is placed in the exact middle of a sentence, work with a comma prior to the closing that is first mark and following the discussion label. Lowercase the discussion tag.

Correct: “I would personallyn’t have forgotten the visit,” she said, “if you had reminded me personally with time.”

  • In the event that discussion label follows an entire phrase and the smoothness continues talking following the tag, utilize a period of time following the discussion label.

Proper: “I do not have concept where Thomas is,” she stated. “I have actuallyn’t seen him all day”


Unlike discussion tags, action beats are often divided through the discussion by durations.

Verbs such as for instance smiled, grinned, laughed, etc., are action beats, maybe maybe maybe not discussion tags, therefore please don’t use commas to split up them from the relative type of discussion.

Proper: “This appears strange.” She squinted straight straight straight straight down at her steak. “Can BBQ sauce lose their freshness?”

Incorrect: “This appears strange,” she squinted straight down at her steak. “Can BBQ sauce go south?”


Utilize commas with discussion tags essay writers and durations with action beats, as well as your editor will forever love you (or at the least perhaps perhaps maybe perhaps not curse your title)!

41 thoughts on “How to punctuate discussion tags and action beats precisely”

Just just How prompt! Many Thanks Sandra and Jae!

I’m so relieved. This is basically the real way i ended up being taught. This is basically the means it looks appropriate. We understand language evolves and modification may be the only constant, but it took the dinosaurs eons. Thank you for slowing this straight down!

I’m really happy it was found by you helpful. You may wish to donate to my newsletter which means you don’t miss any future we we blog post that may allow you to boost your writing abilities.

Many thanks for the data

You’re really welcome! I’m glad you discovered the given information helpful.

Thank you for the refresher that is great!

Happy you discovered the post helpful!

Are you able to separate a phrase having an action beat? eg: ‘i recently thought,’ he viewed her face closely while he talked, ‘that perchance you might love to come over?’

Yes, you are able to, and a lot of authors would exactly punctuate it the manner in which you did.

In line with the Chicago handbook of Style, you are able to use em dashes to create from the action beat:

“i recently thought”——he watched her face closely as he spoke——”that perhaps you might choose to come over?”

Many thanks a great deal! I was thinking that making use of an interval had been proper but the rest of the discussion punctuation articles i discovered didn’t cover beats at all therefore I ended up being with the comma. I’ll have ’em in modification!

Happy the post was found by you helpful. All the best aided by the revisions!

I’m trying to puzzle out if there’s a real option to cut “he said/ she said” from dialogue using a comma or duration. In the place of saying “said”, i’d rather result in the individual be for action and chatting in the time that is same.