Friday, February 11, 2005

Pretend the Quote Marks Aren't There

Quotations are generally introduced with commas:

She said, "How are you?"

Unfortunately, a lot of writers and editors take that guideline to mean that every quotation mark must be accompanied by a comma. Observe:

The president was heckled by protesters who held signs with slogans such as, "Leave My Social Security Alone," and, "No More Lies," as his motorcade arrived.

What in the world are those commas doing there? To write that is like writing:

The animal lover has had pets including, piranhas, and, boa constrictors, over the past three decades.

Punctuate with your brain, not with the search-and-replace function. And, as I've said before, even a correct quote-introducing comma is negotiable if it also introduces awkwardness (as the incorrect ones do in the Social Security example).

No comments: