Just how to punctuate discussion tags and action beats precisely

Just how to punctuate discussion tags and action beats precisely

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

Let’s begin with a meaning:

A discussion label is a presenter verb such as for instance “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 type of discussion is accompanied by a discussion tag, work with a comma (or a question mark or exclamation mark) ahead of the closing quote mark. In the event that very very first word of this discussion label is really a pronoun such while he or she, lowercase it.

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

Proper: “Stop!” she shouted.

Correct: “Are you from your head?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

  • In the event that discussion label follows a sentence that is complete the smoothness continues talking after 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 down at her steak. “Can BBQ sauce lose their freshness?”

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


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

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

Exactly Exactly Exactly How prompt! Many Many Thanks Sandra and Jae!

I’m so relieved. Here is the method we ended up being taught. This is basically the real means it appears appropriate. We understand language evolves and modification may be the only constant, but it took the dinosaurs eons. Many thanks for slowing this straight down!

I’m extremely happy you discovered it helpful. You may wish to sign up to my newsletter so that you don’t miss any future we we blog post that may assist you to enhance your writing abilities.

Many thanks for the knowledge

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

Thank you for the great refresher!

Happy you discovered the post helpful!

Are you able to divide a phrase having an action beat? eg: ‘i simply thought,as he spoke, ‘that maybe you might like to come over?’ he watched her face closely’

Yes, it is possible to, and a lot of article writers 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 the action beat off:

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

Many thanks plenty! We thought that utilizing a period of time ended up being proper but all of those other discussion punctuation articles i discovered didn’t cover beats at all and so I ended up being utilising the comma. I’ll have ’em in modification!

Happy you discovered the post helpful. All the best . because of the revisions!

I’m trying to puzzle out if there’s a real option to cut “he said/ she said” from dialogue through the use of a comma or duration. In place of saying “said”, i’d rather result in the individual be doing his thing and talking at the exact same time.

Dr. Paresh Sodavadiya

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