I can't seem to find a clear and consistent way to quote things.

  1. "May the Force be with you."
  2. May the Force be with you.

  3. "May the Force be with you."

Am I supposed to use quotation marks if I'm using > for quotes? Or is > only for really long quotes? I like using them, even on short quotes because they draw you attention and they break up the text, making it easier to read.

And then there's the issue of how to include who said it:

  1. May the Force be with you.


  2. May the Force be with you.

  3. OBI-WAN: May the Force be with you.

  4. Obi-Wan said, "May the Force be with you."

  5. Obi-Wan said,

    "May the Force be with you."

and so on.

I've looked around in the help center and stuff but I still need some help.

  • 2
    Do what you want brevs. Sovereignty of post-ownership and all that jazz. – Möoz Dec 23 '15 at 4:23
  • 1
    Honestly though, I'd suggest you ask this over at UX; this is essentially a stylistic question, not a convention or guidelines one. – Möoz Dec 23 '15 at 4:26
  • Paging @Slytherincess.... – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 23 '15 at 18:41

Honestly, there's no one true way to do this. I recommend:

  1. Use markdown, if it has a relevant markup for what you're doing. So use quotes for quoting things (start a paragraph with a '>').
  2. Be consistent. Pick one way to layout your post, and stick to it. Using a mix of markdown and inline "quotes" with quotation marks makes your post harder to read.
  • What do you mean by "inline quotes" and "markdown"? [I'm so sorry, just pretend you're talking to a 2-year old :)] – RedCaio Dec 23 '15 at 4:53
  • 1
    Markdown. And by "inline quotes", I mean what I did in this sentence. – user1027 Dec 23 '15 at 6:36

There's no hard and fast guideline. What I've found works for me is what you've described as #6; placing script quotes into inline boxes (with the > key). I also bold the name of the person speaking, use italics to indicate speech and place square quotes to indicate non-speech directions:

WORF: Captain, I recommend we fire photon torpedoes

PICARD: Denied. We're on a mission of peaceful exploration

DATA: [Explosions are heard offscreen] The Romulans have boarded us and are killing hostages

If there's a need to show where the quote is from, I usually hypertext link it into the line above or add it as a rider at the bottom using the format < sup > < sub > text goes here < / sub> < sup> to make it small and innocuous.

  • 2
    Funny. I tend to use italics to indicate actions, and normal text for speech! – user31178 Dec 25 '15 at 21:21

I do not think there is a universal “best” way to format quotes. But honestly I believe formatting of these things can get out of hand and the simplicity of the markdown formatting should be respected. In general—when it comes to markdown formatting—if you are feeling restricted by it’s limitations, many times the best solution is to rethink your overall document structure.

Also remember, there is a mobile app for all Stack Exchange content and formatting choices that might make sense on a desktop site will look ridiculous at best, unreadable at worse when view via the app.

Knowing that, I would say keeping it simple with your 2nd example is the best way to go:

May the Force be with you.

And if you are placing that in some context—such as attribution—then prefacing that quote I see as the best solution:

As Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi said:

May the Force be with you.

As for whether the quote itself should have quotes, that depends. 90% of the time no quotes should be fine since adding them would be redundant. But if you are quoting text out of a book with dialogue in text that has quotes then leave that in there:

“May the Force be with you,” Obi-Wan Kenobi said as he opened the door and exited the security room overlooking the hangar.


It depends. There's not really a clear rule and some of that comes down to personal preference. However, there are some preferred general guidelines for the overall use of SE when it comes to quote blocks in general.

When quoting a larger standalone block of text you should really use a quote block, as that is what quote blocks are made for and it immediately clarifies that the text is a quote, without trying to decipher the little "s in there.

If however you're just using a "small part of a quote" right inside the text, I'd just put it there with quotation marks to not impede the reading flow. I for myself also use "italics" together with the quotation marks, but that's as well a matter of taste.

"Using both a quote block and quotation marks is redundant, you're already using a quote block, additional quotes are distracting and look like the quote is itself quoting something."

As to the format to use when including the quoter, this comes down to personal preferrance quite a bit. But it also depends on the nature of the quote itself to a large degree.

  1. May the Force be with you.


    This makes sense if it is some kind of important standalone quote. You're not quoting a film or a book per-se, but the actual person who said it (be that a fictional person or not) and you want to highlight exactly that person as the originator together with the quote.

  2. May the Force be with you.

    This makes sense if the quoter is clear from the context, for example if you are quoting a single person in a dialogue and you already said in the paragraph before who you are going to quote. Or if it is some kind of general wisdom hardly attributable but clearly a quote.

  3. OBI-WAN: May the Force be with you.

    This is more inherent to dialogue in a dramatic work, be that a play or a movie. I'd use it when quoting dialogue from a film and it is not already clear fro mthe preceding context who says it or it's part of a larger dialogue with more than one character.

  4. Obi-Wan said, "May the Force be with you."

    That's as said, more to be used for smaller quotes that you can put right into the text flow.


I will do a few extra things over what TARS recommends, based on how much time I have or how pretty I want the post to work.

For quotes from people, articles, or character dialague, I may do something like this:

Well, there was more shirtless Thor. The DVD extras are going to be enormously popular. But no, for me, it’s really a couple of little exchanges that I thought would have helped the emotionality and the clarity of the thing. The flow of it, that’s all.

-Joss Whedon, Den of Geek Interview

Where my citation sits below the quote, naming both the speaker and the web source/work cited.

For in-line quotes, I sometimes use code blocks, using the backtick (`) markdown:

James Marsters (Spike), said this about vampires, For Joss, vampires are metaphors for the things you get over in adolescence.

Which isn't the intended purpose for the code blocks, but I think makes the quotes stand out better than just using quotation marks, but doesn't waste vertical space. This habit was actually born out of the fact that you can't do quote blocks in comments, but you can surround text in the backticks to get the code snippets, and in that case it's very useful for showing direct quotes.

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