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In my report a need to write a list of example questions that someone might ask, but I would like to do it in a sentence rather than a separate list. Here is an example:

This poses questions such as "How should I punctuate it?", "Are the quotes necessary?", "Are the commas in the correct place?", and "Should I have used a colon, or a semi-colon?"

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5 Answers 5

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I'd use a bulleted list and drop the quotation marks, like so:

This poses questions such as:

  • How should I punctuate it?
  • Are the quotes necessary?
  • Are the commas in the correct place?
  • Should I have used a colon, or a semi-colon?

Such formatting would look out of place in a novel or other prose, but would look very natural online or in some technical document. While I may be a product of my time, I think bulleted lists are an excellent way to break up a list of items and does so without a bunch of cluttering punctuation.

In cases where a bulleted list would be out of place, I'd suggest using a colon and ditching the quotation marks, like so:

This poses questions such as: How should I punctuate it? Are the quotes necessary? Are the commas in the correct place? Should I have used a colon, or a semi-colon?

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1  
Thanks for the suggestion Scott but I was wondering how I could go about doing it inside of a sentence as a bulleted list would indeed look out of place in my report ;) –  Daniel Jan 20 '11 at 5:48
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@Daniel: I added my suggestion for scenarios where a bulleted list would be out of place. –  Scott Mitchell Jan 20 '11 at 16:56
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Sorry to be nit-picky, but I was taught that if you use a colon, the sentence before the colon should be complete, so your example should be This poses questions such as the following: How should I.... Correct me if I'm wrong. –  RustyTheBoyRobot Oct 12 '12 at 21:35

Quotation marks are not required in lists of questions within a sentence unless they are a direct quote. Rhetorical, self posed, or internal questions only require a question mark. For example:

She thought Shall I go to work? To the mall? Home?

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Welcome to EL&U. There's nothing wrong with your answer as such. But it doesn't really add much to the earlier answer by Scott Mitchell, so I doubt it will attract any votes. You might consider using Comments for minor additional points to older questions. –  FumbleFingers May 18 '11 at 18:19
    
We are told that comments have very minor status in ELU; they are excluded from RSS feeds, for instance. I recommend adding additional points by editing (or proposing an edit) to a question, rather than attaching them as comments. –  MετάEd Jan 27 '12 at 0:16

Here's how I would write it:

This poses questions such as “How should I punctuate it,” “Are the quotes necessary,” “Are the commas in the correct place,” and “Should I have used a colon, or a semi-colon?”

I would say that the more important punctuation mark here is the comma, and you can't have both. Since the questions are obviously questions even without a question mark, and since you are referring to the questions as objects rather than invoking them as queries, it's OK to lose the question marks.

For example, you could imagine

The interview consisted of the usual "Where did you go to school" kind of question.

There is no need for a question mark here because you are using "Where did you go to school" as the name of a question to which you are referring, rather than as the question itself.

To some extent, though, your choice here is going to depend on what tone and cadence you want the reader to imagine in their head. Putting in the question marks will cause the reader to pause and raise their inner voices as if reading a question, which will have the effect of putting more emphasis on the specific question. Leaving out the question marks will cause the reader to rush through the list without pausing or imagining a question, which will have the effect of de-emphasizing the questions. So it's up to you what kind of melody you want the prose to have.

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The way you have it is good. But if you're supposed to be following some house style, then read the manual.

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There is a rule that says if a question appears in direct quotation and this immediately ends in a sentence, the question mark should be preserved and the period omitted.

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+1 I didn't notice the period until I read your answer. –  Tragicomic Jan 20 '11 at 6:51
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Totally correct. It's a bit late, but the period has been removed ;-) –  Daniel May 18 '11 at 7:36

protected by tchrist Aug 13 at 14:31

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