Using Commas before Quotations

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A comma can be used before a quotation when the quotation is introduced with a term like He said or She shouted.

A colon can also be used. As a useful guideline, use a comma for a quotation of six words or fewer and colon for a longer quotation.

Using Commas before Quotations

A comma can be used before a quotation after words like He said, She whispered, It stated, etc.

  • The janitor pointed at the photograph and said, "That's me in the '60s."
  • Bessie stretched across my plate and grunted, "salt...salt and pepper."
  • The sign states, "Animals drive very slowly."
Read more about using punctuation before quotations.
Read more about whether punctuation goes inside or outside quotations.

There is a useful guideline (especially for business writing) that states that only a quotation of six words or fewer should be introduced with a comma. Longer quotations should be introduced with a colon. For example:
  • The janitor said: "See the long-haired one? That's me in the '60s."
This is not a rule. It's just a useful guideline that gives confidence in the decision to use a comma or a colon before a quotation.

Read more about the choice between a colon, a comma, or nothing before a quotation.

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