Is there a rule about capitalisation after a quote?


Well-Known Member
Jul 26, 2021
In other words, when someone has finished speaking, or is in the middle of speaking, what should you be doing with the first letter that isn't part of what they are saying?

When I've looked over other stories there seems to be little consistency in whether or not the first word in the prose on the same line after someone's spoken is capitalised or not, so I'm wondering what the rule, if any, is regarding this?

So, couple of examples of what I mean.

"I was wonder if anyone could clear this one up for me," the person asked. "I've never been quite sure what to do in this case."
"Neither have I," Spoke up another person. "It's always rather irked me." He sat down at that point.
"I can tell you one thing I do know," Simon said. "If you're using their name straight away you certainly capitalise THAT."


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.
Staff member
Jul 29, 2005
Names are capitalised. Verbs that describe the action of speaking or thinking are, most definitely, not. Regardless of whether the spoken (or thought) dialogue is a complete sentence or not, the verb is always lower-case.

"Hello" Susan said. Yes
"Hello!" She said. No

"Can you tell me," asked Susan, "where I can find Aslan?" Yes
"Can you tell me," Asked Susan, "where I can find Aslan?" No

"I've found Aslan!" shouted Susan. "He was on the table all the time." Yes
"I've found Aslan!" Shouted Susan. "He was on the table all the time." No

"I have often walked down the street before, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before - all at once am I several stories high, knowing I'm on the street where you live." warbled Freddy Eynsford-Hill. Yes

This is one of my pet hates in badly-transcribed Kindle books, and fan-fiction. I can't help wondering if there's a software issue with some transcription programmes, that capitalises after any or every punctuation marks.


Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Oct 13, 2008
West Sussex, UK
The capitalizations follow the same rules as the periods.
So here:

the capital S is incorrect because you have not started a new sentence.
Exactly this. If it helps, imagine the quote marks aren't there.

It's complicated a little when ending a bit of dialogue with !, ?, ..., -- etc, as most other punctuation can be treated as either a full-stop or comma for this purpose. In these cases, if you're unsure, it helps to temporarily think of the ? or whatever as either a comma or full-stop

? acts like a comma (same sentence):

"What are you doing?" she said.
What are you doing, she said.

? acts like full-stop (separate sentences):

"What are you doing?" She closed the door behind her.
What are you doing. She closed the door behind her.

Wayne Mack

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2020
Chantilly, Virginia, US
When using a dialog tag, for example 'said' or anything that directly references speaking, replace a period with a comma at the end of the dialog. Retain the punctuation, if something other than a period is used; a question mark or exclamation point for example. The tag in both of these cases will be in lower case.

If the following section is not a dialog tag, but a beat showing action, for example, 'Al rolled his eyes.', then end the dialog with the appropriate punctuation and start the action beat with an uppercase letter.

Though this reference is not directly about capitalization, the examples shown reflect what I said above, Quotation marks | The Punctuation Guide

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