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Is any particular punctuation necessary when a quotation is the subject of a sentence? For example, in the sentence below, should there be a comma after export? Or anything else?

"Laughter is America's most important export" is a well-known quote of Walt Disney's.

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3 Answers 3

I do not see a problem with that.

"Yields falsehood when preceeded by its quotation" yields falsehood when preceeded by its quotation.

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There is a more modern and more flexible approach to punctuation, especially in this area, as described at http://www.grammar-monster.com/lessons/quotation_(speech)_marks_colon_or_comma.htm (alongside the more traditional and prescriptive approach):

DON'T WORRY

The majority of people do not adhere to the guidelines regarding the use of commas and colons with quotations. Nowadays, it is acceptable to introduce a quotation with a comma, a colon or nothing. In modern writing, the choice of punctuation depends largely on the desired flow of the text (i.e., how much the writer wants the reader to pause).

(The terminal punctuation is not addressed explicitly here, of course, but the freedom allowed to the writer surely holds here too.)

And, from the Dept of Language, Literature & Culture, Aarhus University:

... There is much variation in the ways in which individual publishers punctuate quotes; for example, some treat full sentences that are quoted differently from words and short phrases. The important thing is to be consistent.

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I would put a comma there because I'd put a comma between those clauses anyway:

"Laughter is America's most important export," is a well-known quote of Walt Disney's.

Laughter is America's most important export, as studies in global comedy economics show.

But you don't need to if you have a phrase or word that isn't a clause on its own.

Walter Elias "Walt" Disney claimed that laughter was "America's most important export".

We need not if we need not without the quotes:

"Laughter is America's most important export" that isn't covered by International trade agreements.

"Laugher is America's most important export" and K-Pop is America's most inexplicable import.

(A comma would be optional in the last).

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1  
Putting the comma inside the quotation marks in your first example is arguably misquotation, or at least American. Furthermore, wherever the comma goes, I dislike it as much as "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs", is a well-known film of Walt Disney's. –  TimLymington Feb 11 '13 at 23:44
    
What about That she hated me was apparent. Who says a clause (especially noun clauses) always needs a comma? –  bib Feb 11 '13 at 23:46
    
@TimLymington Just "American" (in scare-quotes because the it's always been found outside of America). –  Jon Hanna Feb 11 '13 at 23:48
    
@bib That's why I added two cases where we wouldn't put a comma between clauses. –  Jon Hanna Feb 11 '13 at 23:48
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There does seem to be a slight disagreement about whether the claim in Jon's answer is as valid as he writes: at usscouts.org/flag/sealmotto.asp we see a comma-less (but inverted-comma-heavy) statement from what seems more of an authority than any cited (in support of the need for a comma when it's a complete clause being quoted) by Jon: In 1963 the Department of State took the following position: "'In God we trust'" is the motto of the United States. –  Edwin Ashworth Feb 12 '13 at 0:16

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