I am layouting a novel, and while it generally flows like novels do, in two occasions, one person holds extremely long political speeches -- a couple of pages long, several paragraphs each.

I find it extremely confusing to have simply a quotation mark at the beginning and at the end, however, I also don't know another way. I have seen some older books (1960 and earlier) using an open quotation mark at the beginning of each paragraph while the speech continues, but no closing quotation mark but for the last paragraph -- then there is one.

What would be your suggestion to make this appealing for the reader, logical, and still nice?

  • Is such micro-editing (e.g., inserting and/or removing quotation marks) expected from you?
    – Jongware
    Sep 4, 2016 at 22:13
  • 1
    Yes, it is. :-/
    – Sebastian
    Sep 5, 2016 at 8:36
  • In most all books I've read they're used the approach described in your question with an opening quotation mark at the beginning and none at the end until that last paragraph Sep 5, 2016 at 11:47
  • Seems to be the way to go then. Thanks, @ZachSaucier
    – Sebastian
    Sep 5, 2016 at 20:09
  • 2
    Question might be better asked at english.stackexchange.com Sep 6, 2016 at 17:39

2 Answers 2


AP Style says:

RUNNING QUOTATIONS: If a full paragraph of quoted material is followed by a paragraph that continues the quotation, do not put close-quote marks at the end of the first paragraph. Do, however, put open-quote marks at the start of the second paragraph. Continue in this fashion for any succeeding paragraphs, using close-quote marks only at the end of the quoted material. If a paragraph does not start with quotation marks but ends with a quotation that is continued in the next paragraph, do not use close-quote marks at the end of the introductory paragraph if the quoted material constitutes a full sentence.


Depending on the content, you could consider formatting it like a block quote that you might see on a web page, such as giving it a deeper indent and possibly a different font.

That approach might be acceptable for non-fiction, but in fiction works, the different formatting could break immersion in my opinion.

While it might look unfriendly at first glance to only use a beginning and closing quotation mark, there are a few things that help the reader:

  • The reader is (hopefully) paying attention
  • The content being spoken may make it clear the speaker's POV and who is talking
  • The text following the block may also make it clear who just spoke ("So spoke the Demon Price to his minions.")

The ability to follow long blocks of spoken text is (in my opinion) the responsibility of the author, not the book designer. Good text should be easy to follow through long spoken text.

  • I thought about the block quote, too, but it just doesn't fit. I am still not happy with the two quotation marks, but I guess I will go for it and see what people say.
    – Sebastian
    Sep 6, 2016 at 15:54

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