puctuation before quotations..MLA format. Is it most often a colon, a comma, or nothing at times?


For example,

When relecting on his past, he says that " I remember the precise moment..

What goes after that?

Another example,

He said, "I thought I forgot about this land, but I didn't."

When do you use colons, when do you use commas, and when do you use nothing? Please give examples.

See example:

How I had teased him about big words he didn't know."
asked May 11 '12 at 19:53 mary crippen New member

1 answer


Here is what the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd edition, 2008) says about quotations (section 3.9.7).


Whether set off from the text or run into it, quoted material is usual preceded by a colon if the quotation is formally introduced and by a conma or no punctuation  if the quotation is an integral part of the sentence structure.


Shelly held a bold view: "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World."

Shelly thought poets "the unacknowledged ...."

"Poets," according to Shelley, "are the unacknowledged ...." 


The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition, 2010) provides similar guidance (sections 13.17-19) with one exception. When the quoted text is set off (Chicago calls this a block quotation), a period rather than colon may be used unless the introductory text ends with thus, as follows, or other wording that requires a colon.

link edited May 12 '12 at 21:10 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Good stuff, Jeff. I didn't have my copy in front of me when I was putting my answer together.

TolleyMay 11 '12 at 20:21

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