Whether you are writing an article, a blog post, or a report, quotations can add depth and authenticity to your content. (And, you can quote me on that!) Here is a quick overview on how to introduce run-in quotations, which are short quotations integrated into sentences.
Please note that the information below is only intended for quotations within nonfiction works, articles, reports, and blog posts. Dialog in transcripts, screenplays, and some fictional works can follow different formats than those shown here.
Use Commas to Introduce Run-in Quotations
The most common way to introduce run-in quotations is to link the source’s name with a communication verb or phrase followed by a comma.1 (However, if you use The Associated Press Stylebook as your official style guide, this technique only applies to one-sentence quotations.2)
Jeckle Wright said, “I insist that you put cat food in my bowl at exactly 6:00 p.m.”
In addition, the introduction, also called an attribution, can come after the quotation. If the sentence would normally end in a period, replace the period with a comma; don’t replace question marks or exclamation marks.
“I prefer canned food mixed with dry food,” wrote Heckle Aubry.
“What time will you be home to feed me?” asked Fireball Thomas.
Furthermore, the attribution can be placed between two phrases or clauses that create a single quotation. Quotations divided in this manner are often called split quotations.
“Watching birds is exhausting,” declared Padron Gâteau, “and I need a nap.”
Use Colons to Introduce Run-in Quotations
Quotations can also be introduced with a complete sentence followed by a colon.3
Oliva Éclair made her demand quite clear: “Get over here and pet me—now!”
Don’t Use Commas or Colons to Introduce Partial Quotations
If the quotation is an incomplete sentence, it can be introduced with the source’s name and a communication verb or introductory phrase—no comma or colon is necessary.
Maxwell Silver believes that “the windowsill is the best seat in the house.”
This technique also applies to multiple phrases or clauses.
Bones Smith enjoys the finer things in life, including “secretly drinking from the flower vase on the counter” and “lounging on the cool floor tile in the ‘off-limits’ bathroom.”
I would like to extend a special thank you to my friend and fellow grammar enthusiast Lisa for contributing to this post. In a future post, I will discuss block quotations, which are longer quotations that stand apart from the surrounding text.
1. The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 13.14; MLA Handbook, 8th ed. (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2016), 1.3.7.
2. The Associated Press Stylebook 2020–2022 (New York: Associated Press, 2020), 337.
3. The Associated Press Stylebook 2020–2022, 336; MLA Handbook, 1.3.7; The Chicago Manual of Style, 13.16.