Sam developed an annual sweepstakes promotion entitled “The Free Gas Punt Return Game”.

Do I need a comma after entitled or not?

  • 1
    As Edwin Ashworth said in his answer, there's no hard and fast rule. It depends on what flow you wish to impart to the text.
    – Doc
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 19:59
  • 1
    This is not a quotation. It is a name. Which only happens to be in quotes, and only because you put it in quotes, which are completely optional in the first place. You wouldn't write "girl named, Sarah", so don't write "promotion entitled, [title]", either. Simple as that.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 15:53
  • It is not technically a quotation, but it is a title. One would place a book title or similar in quotation marks (if not adhering to the italicisation or other rule instead). Perhaps a promotion title does not need to be in quotation marks, or italicised, or anything else, but it isn't wrong.
    – nxx
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 16:01
  • Had you omitted the word "entitled," it would then take a comma: Sam developed an annual sweepstakes promotion, "The Free Gas Punt Return Game."
    – Taj Moore
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 20:12
  • Possibly a duplicate of english.stackexchange.com/questions/18867/…. Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 1:21

3 Answers 3


In your example, the quotation is not preceded by a speaker tag, is not even direct speech, and is part of the flow of your own sentence, so do not use a comma. The use of "entitled" doesn't change this, same as, to use Michael Owen Sartin's example, you would simply say "My brother is called John".

In case you are asking about preceding comma use more generally:

I can't find a good authoritative source to cite for this at the moment (anyone?), but dummies.com says this:

No comma separates the quotation from the rest of the sentence if the quotation doesn’t have a speaker tag.

And I like these examples:

Mr. Johnson, who was working in his field that morning, said, "The alien spaceship appeared right before my own two eyes."


Although Mr. Johnson has seen odd happenings on the farm, he stated that the spaceship "certainly takes the cake" when it comes to unexplainable activity.


No comma is needed. Would you write, "Here is my brother named, John, and here is a photograph of my brother called, James?" Or would you write, "Here is my brother named John, and here is a photograph of my brother James?" If you are writing for a US readership, you'll want to tuck the period inside the quotation marks.

A late edit: Of course, someone might consider the game in question to be a "work of art." Doing so would allow the following: Sam developed an annual sweepstakes promotion entitled The Free Gas Punt Return Game. I like it. In my initial read of the question I thought the quotation marks were being used to set-off the title as such, but seeing the game as a work of art solves some problems.

  • I don't think you are really addressing the OP's point here, and I think names used as interjections do get commas, on both sides of the pond. Help me, Rhonda, help, help me, Rhonda. Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 21:51
  • The "John" in "my brother John" is not a name being called for the purpose of getting his attention, while Rhonda is being called for help. I'd say, "Ralph, you won't believe what my friend Susan just wrote." Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 1:19
  • The 'would you write' test is potentially very dangerous. For instance, all the following are in use: He wished her a merry Christmas. // He wished her merry Christmas // He wished her Merry Christmas. // He wished her, "Merry Christmas." // He wished her "Merry Christmas." Verbs used to introduce quotes and pseudo-quotes are many and various, and I'd say that a flexible approach is best. Though with your example, few would dream of inserting commas. Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 23:40
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    @EdwinAshworth You are right. It is a dangerous game. Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 1:57

Grammar Monster is better than it sounds:


(re: introductory comma? colon? ....)

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 [here] depends largely on the desired flow of the text (i.e., how much the writer wants the reader to pause).

And this refers in the first instance to direct speech, often treated with greater respect than other quotes.

  • After thinking about this for several seconds she anxiously asked John, "He and Jim are coming here on Thursday?"
  • Wishing she had less dull-witted politicians to deal with, she countered: "The vaccine won't be ready before the end of next year at the earliest."
  • He shouted "I'm unarmed!" as soon as he was challenged.


  • Sam developed an annual sweepstakes promotion entitled 'The Free Gas Punt Return Game'.
  • But the example doesn't really "introduce" the quote; the quote is embedded in the sentence as a whole. And surely the purpose of a comma, or other punctuation, is syntactic, not a guide to good reading, ie, how long to pause .
    – nxx
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 15:16
  • There is still a lot of – I'll say debate – over the exact way to treat various levels of quotes. Some people treat the quote as the matrix sentence (or fragment), and the framing structure merely as a pragmatic marker. That obviously doesn't work in OP as the non-quote is heavily loaded with semantic content. I wouldn't use a comma in OP's example, for the reason you give, but I like the availability of all three above forms of punctuation for different examples. // The comma is not considered by many modern writers to have solely syntactic roles. Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 15:27
  • Oh indeed. Outside of the OP's specific example, there are many ways to precede a quotation, and having choice is great. Who are these "many modern writers"? I don't mean to sound derisive - I am genuinely interested in sources.
    – nxx
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 15:35
  • Pragmatic usages of commas (sometimes overlapping syntax-informing ones) are advocated here, here ('Use commas to create a pause if your breath units are getting too long') and here Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 15:37
  • I agree that the first and third, as you say, overlap with informing syntax. The second I don't like at all, but that is an argument for another place. Appreciate the links though!
    – nxx
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 15:50

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