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July 01, 2015

Punctuation Junction: Punctuation Before Quotation Marks

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

Punctuation Junction: A series about what happens when punctuation marks collide.

We have previously addressed how to use single and double quotation marks to enclose a quotation, and today we expand upon that topic to address how to use punctuation before a quotation. A few principles are at work here:

  1. To identify the speaker of a quotation before the quotation appears, put a comma after the speaking-related verb (said, replied, stated, wrote, etc.).
    • Correct: Koval, vanDellen, Fitzsimons, and Ranby (2015) stated, “Although many factors likely predict who is asked to do what (e.g., collegiality; cooking skills), the current research suggests that one robust predictor of being relied on is being high in self-control” (p. 763).
    • Incorrect: Koval, vanDellen, Fitzsimons, and Ranby (2015) stated “Although many factors likely predict who is asked to do what (e.g., collegiality; cooking skills), the current research suggests that one robust predictor of being relied on is being high in self-control” (p. 763).
  1. To present a quotation after a complete sentence (e.g., those ending in thus or as follows), put a colon after the introductory sentence and before the quotation marks. Start the quotation that follows with a capital letter if the quotation itself is a full sentence; start the quotation with a lowercase letter if it is a sentence fragment.
    • Correct: Although some people believe tasks are easier for individuals with high self-control, the research has indicated as follows: “Participants actually working on the task found it equally difficult and draining, regardless of their own self-control” (Koval et al., 2015, p. 763).
    • Incorrect: Although some people believe tasks are easier for individuals with high self-control, the research has indicated as follows, “Participants actually working on the task found it equally difficult and draining, regardless of their own self-control” (Koval et al., 2015, p. 763).
  1. For other scenarios, punctuate according to the grammar of the sentence, as though the quotation marks were not there. This means sometimes no punctuation is required before quotation marks. 
    • Correct: Koval et al. (2015) found that “individuals with high self-control may feel tired, annoyed, and perhaps even resentful of the fact that others ask and expect more of them” (p. 763).
    • Incorrect: Koval et al. (2015) found that, “individuals with high self-control may feel tired, annoyed, and perhaps even resentful of the fact that others ask and expect more of them” (p. 763).

Do you have other questions related to using punctuation before quotation marks? Leave a comment below.

Balloon and net

Source:

Koval, C. Z., vanDellen, M. R., Fitzsimons, G. M., & Ranby, K. W. (2015). The burden of responsibility: Interpersonal costs of high self-control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108, 750–766. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000015

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