How to Write Dialogue in An Essay

If you’re here, chances are that you are wondering how to write dialogue in an essay. Why is it so important? Dialogue essays are something that many students have tried and failed. With our help, you can succeed. Do you know how much difference dialogue in essays can make in your creative work? It can do wonders for your writing. Who knows? Using a dialogue in an essay might just be the thing that can win you that scholarship. Writing dialogue essays can be hard to master. There are some things you need to understand about how to write dialogue in an essay. Here, we will be covering all of them. We will look at:

  • What is a dialogue
  • When should you use a dialogue in an essay
  • Dialouge essay format
  • Punctuation rules
  • APA and MLA style format for dialogue in an essay

Moreover, we will also give you some examples so you can understand the concept and ideas better.

So, what is a dialogue? A dialogue is a conversation between people. That’s it. Quotations marks are used to frame them. However, you may confuse dialogue with direct quotes. It is crucial to discern the difference if you want to know how to write dialogue in an essay.

  • Direct quotes are used to support the claim or an argument of the author. When you use them, you must write them word-for-word.
  • Dialogues are used merely as a part of the story as a whole, just to add a pleasant-looking and creative touch.

However, it is worth noting that if you use a dialogue as a part of your argument or claim, then you are using direct quotes.

Therefore, the fundamental difference here is the intended use.

So, when should you use dialogue in essays? We suggest you use dialogue essays when the essay you are writing is a narrative essay. This is mainly because narrative essays are intended to tell a story. Your words should turn into images for the readers as they read through your work. Dialogue can amplify this effect by adding extra depth and immersion. Besides, without a single dialogue, your story will sound very dull indeed. You don’t want your readers to fall asleep when they are reading your work, do you? Especially when you have put your heart and soul into it. We don’t want that, either. However, the dialogue in essays is not a master key that one can use in any kinds of essay. If you stumble upon an argumentative essay, we advise you to use direct quotes instead. Argumentative essays, for example, are supposed to support a claim. This is no place to tell a story. Your argument will seem weaker if you use dialogue instead of direct quotes.

The next step about how to write dialogue in an essay, we look at the format of dialouge essay. Here’s how to format dialogue in an essay. Take a look at these dialogue essays examples:

  • Quotation marks are used for usual quotes.

    Incorrect: He said, I don’t like where this is going.

    Correct: He said, “I don’t like where this is going.”


  • Single quotation marks are used for quotes inside other quotes.

    Incorrect: He said, “I think she said I don’t like video games.”

    Correct: He said, “I think she said ‘I don’t like video games’.”


  • If a dialogue has more than one paragraph, put the quotation marks at the start of every paragraph and only at the end of the final paragraph.

    Incorrect: The witness said, “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. A group of four people, armed and masked, entered the building and ordered us to get on the ground.

    Then, I heard gunshots.”

    Correct: The witness said, “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. A group of four people, armed and masked, entered the building and ordered us to get on the ground.

    “Then, I heard gunshots.”

Now, we will discuss the rules of punctuations in dialogue essays. Take a look at these dialogue essays examples:

  • Put periods inside the quotation marks.

    Incorrect: He said, “I’m heading out to buy some wine”.

    Correct: He said, “I’m heading out to buy some wine.”


  • Put punctuation marks inside the quotation marks if they are a part of that person’s speech.

    Incorrect: The police yelled, “Police! Put your hands in the air”!

    Correct: The police yelled, “Police! Put your hands in the air!”


  • Put punctuation marks outside the quotation marks if they are a part of a larger question or exclamation.

    Incorrect: He asked, “Did he just say don’t go there?”

    Correct: He asked, “Did he just say ‘don’t go there’?”


  • Put commas after verbs like say, exclaim, and ask before the quote.

    Incorrect: She said “Dad! You left the oven on again!”

    Correct: She said, “Dad! You left the oven on again!”


  • Put commas at the end of the dialogue inside the quotation marks, if verbs like say, exclaim, and ask come after the quote.

    Incorrect: “I won’t be back until tomorrow. Take care” he said.

    Correct: “I won’t be back until tomorrow. Take care,” he said.


  • If it is a separated sentence, place a comma inside the quotation marks of the first part; and another after verbs like said, exclaimed, and asked.

    Incorrect: “Okay” he said, “we got him on our side. We’ll win this for sure.”

    Correct: “Okay,” he said, “we got him on our side. We’ll win this for sure.”


Finally, we will look at how to put dialogue in a paper in MLA and APA format. You need to follow a proper format if you want to score high.

For MLA format, dialogue essays format style is pretty simple. Here are the rules you need to understand:

  • The dialogue is placed in another paragraph, no matter how short the speech is. Commas are used to separate the dialogue tags.

    She said,

    “Oh, God. I forgot to bring my umbrella again.”


  • If the person’s speech is more than one paragraph, then begin every paragraph with a quotation mark and put one final quotation mark at the end of the last paragraph.

    During her testimony, she said,

    “It was around midnight when I heard a crash downstairs. I thought nothing of it at first, since my cat usually knocks things off at night. But after a few minutes, I heard my dogs barking.

    “I realized that there could be someone in my house. So, I called the police immediately.”


For APA format, dialogue essays are less straightforward compared to MLA format. Take a look at these rules:

  • Dialogue tag and quotes remain in the same paragraph if the person had little to say. Use commas to separate the dialogue tags and the quotes. For example:

    He said, “I’m heading out. Do you want something?”


  • If a person’s speech has more than 40 words, place the quotation marks at the beginning of every single paragraph, and at the end of the dialogue. For example:

    During the presentation, he said,

    “We have achieved a competitive advantage with our new product. This new smartphone features a function that no other companies have not achieved. This would not have been possible without the help of our Research and Development team.

    “This new phone features a flexible touchscreen that is tough enough to withstand extreme force. The consumers will love it when their phones are less prone to fall damage.”


  • If you want to use a dialogue involving more than two people, then put the other person’s speech in another paragraph. For example:

    “911. What’s your emergency?” He said.

    “Thank God! I think my husband is not breathing!” she exclaimed.


And that is all there is to it. In short, there are the three rules about how to format dialogue in an essay, the rules on punctuation, and how to put dialogue in a paper in APA or MLA format. We understand that it can be difficult for you, especially if you are new to the idea of dialog essay. It is not easy to master. That much is true. That is why not many people can take advantage of this technique. With a little bit of practice, you can master the way of dialog essay. When that time comes, you can use it to score that extra marks for your paper. Now get out there and start writing!