I'm writing about a person who writes in their journal like this:

She wrote, "I went to the store today."

But I have a feeling it's not correct. Should I use a colon?

She wrote: "I went to the store today."

or no quotes, italicized?

She wrote, I went to the store today.

I tried googling this but couldn't find anything that helped. One thing I found in a style journal is that quotes should only be used for speaking, so I'm leery about using them for this.

  • This looks like it's the same as How to emphasize a quote is written, not spoken?, but I'm not very impressed by the answers there.
    – Laurel
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 17:49
  • 1
    Mechanical stylistic issues of this sort will depend on the place you want to publish. It will vary from one book publisher to the next, one magazine to the net, etc. You will need to contact the editor (or similar person) at the place you want to publish.
    – Boba Fit
    Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 0:07

2 Answers 2


As far as I can find, there isn't a specific style for doing this. Maybe there is some style guide out there that specifies a preferred method, but isn't anything that shows up in any books I've read. Also, generally, it doesn't matter. If you submit the work for publication, editors will fix it. Chose a style that you like and use it consistently.

I think the big concern is how much your character is going to be writing in a scene. If it's a very active scene, with the character writing and doing things and interacting with their environment: handling the pen, adjusting the desk light, etc., then I'd treat what the character writes in the same fashion as dialogue. I'd use quotes for exact quotes of what the character wrote and I'd summarize the text that wasn't exactly quoted, just like I would indirect thought or indirect dialogue.

If the whole written text shared with the reader is the exact text and there isn't a reason to show the scene in real-time, then I'd consider writing that portion in an epistolary form -- like a letter or diary entry included as part of the story. And, in that case, it ought to look like a letter or diary entry -- no quotes, no attributes.


I think this is the best answer

She wrote: "I went to the store today."

  • 1
    Welcome to Writing.SE! Can you explain why you believe this is the best answer? We prefer answers to have some kind of reasoning behind them, rather than just "Try this".
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 22:50
  • That's what my teacher told me is the right way to write it
    – Muffin_Cat
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 0:12

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