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Grammar resource: Formatting dialogue - Action and dialogue

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Writers can vary in their approaches to formatting action and dialogue. However, there are a some general rules to follow.

Action and dialogue

As a general rule, if the speaker of a line of dialogue performs an action after speaking, you should keep that action in the same paragraph. Begin a new paragraph whenever action or dialogue from a character other than the original speaker is introduced. Start a new paragraph for actions performed by another character even if they don’t say anything. This keeps everything nice and clear!


Punctuating action and dialog

If an action occurs before or after a line of dialogue is spoken, it should be given its own sentence, ending with a full stop.


If the action happens at the same time as a line of dialogue is spoken, you can run it into the same sentence by using a dialogue tag (or em dashes, as shown in the next section).