A formal introduction
Do you use a comma or a colon to introduce a quote?
The Associated Press Stylebook gives us some oft-ignored pointers in the punctuation section, under "colon."
INTRODUCING QUOTATIONS: Use a comma to introduce a direct quotation of one sentence that remains within a paragraph. Use a colon to introduce long quotations within a paragraph and to end all paragraphs that introduce a paragraph of quoted material.So ... what does that mean?
Introduce a quote with a comma if it has one sentence.
He said, "I have no idea what you're talking about."But introduce it with a colon if it has more than one sentence.
He said: "I have no idea what you're talking about. This keeps getting crazier."Wrong:
He said, "I have no idea what you're talking about. This keeps getting crazier."Or, as Bill Walsh succinctly put it in "Lapsing Into a Comma": "Full-sentence quotes should be introduced with commas. Multiple-sentence quotes should be introduced with colons."
And an exception: Some newspapers will have you use a colon with one sentence if you're flipping the attribution ("Said he:" vs. "He said,").