How exactly to punctuate discussion tags and action beats precisely

One small thing that drives numerous editors crazy is wrong punctuation of dialogue and action beats.

Let’s focus on 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 always be going.” Tina edged toward the doorway.

While discussion tags and action beats can have a similar function—identifying the speaker—they aren’t punctuated similar.


  • In case a relative line of discussion is accompanied by a discussion label, make use of a comma (or a concern mark or exclamation mark) ahead of the closing quote mark. In the event that very very very very first term regarding the discussion label is really a pronoun such she, lowercase it as he or.

Proper: “I don’t have any basic idea,” she said.

Proper: “Stop!” she shouted.

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

Incorrect: “I do not have idea.” She stated.

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

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

  • In the event that discussion label is placed in the center of a sentence, work with a comma ahead of the closing that is first mark and following the discussion tag. 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 total phrase and the type continues talking following the tag, utilize a period of time following the discussion tag.

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 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 down at her steak. “Can BBQ sauce go south?”

Incorrect: “This appears strange,” she squinted 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 love you forever (or at the least perhaps perhaps maybe maybe not curse your title)!

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

Exactly Just Exactly How timely! Many Many Thanks Sandra and Jae!

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

I’m extremely happy it was found by you helpful. You might wish to sign up to my newsletter and that means you don’t miss any future we we blog post that may assist you to enhance your writing abilities.

Many thanks for the data

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

Thank you for the refresher that is great!

Happy you discovered the post helpful!

Are you able to separate a phrase by having an action beat? eg: ‘i simply thought,’ he viewed her face closely as he talked, ‘that perchance you might choose to come over?’

Yes, you are able to, and a lot of authors would exactly punctuate it the manner in which you did.

Based on the Chicago handbook of Style, you’ll be able to use em dashes to create from the action beat:

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

Many thanks a great deal! I was thinking that making use of an interval had been proper but all of those other discussion punctuation articles i discovered did cover that is n’t at all and so I had been utilising the comma. I’ll have ’em in modification!

Happy the post was found by best essay writer you helpful. All the best . using the revisions!

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

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