Let me begin by saying that I’m no grammar Nazi. However, the fact is that for many people, grammar and mechanics will make or break whether they put any stock into your writing. So if you want them to take you seriously, which you obviously do, you should take care to punctuate things correctly.
Now with that in mind, it’s important to note that the quotes you include are perhaps the most important part of your press release. Why? Well, not only do they offer a more human side to your release, but they also lend a bit of credibility. Rather than the reader hearing about some company that they may know nothing about from a third party, they get it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, when you include valuable quotes from the people directly involved — the primary source.
Now, all that being said, you can imagine how important it is to get that quote right. And that means you have to know the rules to punctuating quotes in your release. Otherwise, someone might throw it in the trash before they finish it. Sure, that may sound extreme, but it will at least devalue their opinion of you as a writer, and therefore as a credible source.
Okay, so now that I’ve shown you how important it is to properly punctuate your quotes, let me take you through some of the most important rules to help you do just that:
Put the comma inside the quotation marks.
Say you have the following quote:
“Our company is looking to reach a larger audience than ever before,” John Doe said.
Notice, there has to be comma inside the quotation marks to separate what John Doe is actually saying from the tagline, the part that lets the reader know who is saying the quote. A common mistake (that makes writers look completely amateur) would be to write:
“Our company is looking to reach a larger audience than ever before”, John Doe said.
And interesting to note, when typing this, Word did NOT catch that error. Nor did it catch it when I tried simply leaving the comma out altogether. So don’t rely on Word!
Capitalize the first word of your quote.
John Doe said, “We are focusing on customer service.”
Since that is the beginning of what he was saying, that is where his sentence starts. And the start of any sentence calls for a capital letter.
If the tagline comes first, the comma comes before the quotation marks.
In the example above, notice that the comma came directly after the word “said,” not after the quotation marks. It’s also important to note that a comma is necessary there, even though many people tend to omit it.
Typically, if a quote ends the sentence, then the final punctuation rests inside the quotation marks.
Take this sentence:
Susie Q. said, “We weren’t sure what to do next, but then the answer hit us.”
No period is needed after the quote. The period inside the quote signifies the end of the quote, as well as the end of the actual sentence. The only time this may differ is if the sentence itself, but not the quote, is a question. Example:
Did Susie Q. say, “The answer hit us”?
However, you aren’t typically asking questions in a press release, so you probably won’t run across this one.
Are there any other quotation punctuation rules you feel we should discuss? Tell us about them!
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/beginnersguide.html