I am conflicted about which one is appropriate for a story, or whether it makes a difference at all. A few years ago, god knows where, I've seen speech that was formatted like so:

—Hello. - Tom said.

and a more common form which is found in a lot of books:

"Hello," Tom said.

Does it make a difference, whatever one I use?

EDIT: I don't know how this displays since I am using my phone, but the first speech format was supposed to have a dash at the front in case it is replaced on your screen with a dot.


3 Answers 3


About 99+% of books printed in English use quote marks for dialog, not dashes.

Why are you considering using dashes? Is there some advantage to this for your story?

Like any rules of writing, you can always break the rules if you have a good reason. But like any rules of writing, I would strongly advise you not to break the rules unless you do have a good reason. Breaking the rules just for the sake of breaking the rules -- "I won't be bound by a bunch of silly rules", "I want my writing to be daring and avant guarde", etc -- is almost always just distracting and annoying to the reader.


The dash may be European formatting, but it's not standard in English-speaking countries. Some information on the dialogue dash here: Using dashes in writing dialogue

However, if your readers are in America, the U.K., or Australia (at minimum), you should stay with quote marks. Americans use double quotes for dialogue and the British use single quotes; I don't know what Australians use.


Yes. If you want to be published by a traditional publisher or in a journal/magazine, you'll be expected to format with the quotations, punctuation within the quotes.

If you wish to self-publish, I'd still suggest that you strongly consider using the format with quotations. Readers are accustomed to seeing dialogue formatted this way and if you stray from it, readers may become confused. Some work does use creative formatting for dialogue, but it's a conscious decision to do so and supported by an editor.

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