proper position of a semicolon when listing direct quotes


I am wondering what the correct positioning of the semicolon should be in this statement that lists three separate quotes. Should it come before the quotation marks or after? And where should a space be placed, if any?

See example:

The mission is: "We improve the health and well-being of the people in our communities by providing excellent care and comprehensive services;" the vision is: "To provide excellent health care services to every patient, every time;" and the values are: "Excellence, integrity, respect, and independence" (MMHS, 2013c).
asked Mar 31 '13 at 18:40 Laure VanderVlucht New member

2 answers


The rule of thumb is:


. | ,  inside the quotation marks
: | ;  outside the quotation marks


A single space is used after the semicolon and no space before it.


[...] provide excellent health care services to every patient, every time"; and the values are [...]

link comment edited Mar 31 '13 at 22:00 David Simons Contributor

David provides an excellent answer from an American English perspective. British English uses a different rule for the placement of commas with respect to quotation marks -- typically, commas are outside the quotation marks in British English unless the comma is an actual part of the quote.


In either flavor of English, you sentence has a different problem. You do not need colons before the quotations. Colons are used to introduce lists and block quotations. A block quotation is a lengthy quotation, usually consisting of several complete sentences, and formatted as an indented paragraph.


I hope this helps.

link comment answered Apr 01 '13 at 01:53 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Your answer

Write at least 20 characters

Have a question about English grammar, style or vocabulary use? Ask now to get help from Grammarly experts for FREE.