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I am completing a manuscript for my recent book. I would love to know whether I need to put a comma, semicolon, or other form of punctuation (or none) in-between these quoted sentences.

The examples are below. Which one of these sentences is correctly punctuated?

For example, you could choose to say, "Thank you, you are very kind. I will let you know"; "I appreciate your offer, but I've made a decision already"; "Thanks! I'll think about your offer for a few days and I'll get back to you."

For example, you could choose to say, "Thank you, you are very kind. I will let you know," "I appreciate your offer, but I've made a decision already," "Thanks! I'll think about your offer for a few days and I'll get back to you."

For example, you could choose to say, "Thank you, you are very kind. I will let you know." "I appreciate your offer, but I've made a decision already." "Thanks! I'll think about your offer for a few days and I'll get back to you."

Which of these are correct? Notice how the first paragraph has a semicolon, the second has a comma, and the third has a period within the quoted text.

I'd love to hear your expert knowledge!

  • This is always a dilemma. I would change the comma after "say" to a colon and then use the 3rd option. (But for sentences without commas I might be inclined to option 2.) (But note that I'm an engineer, not an editor.) – Hot Licks Mar 7 '15 at 13:21
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I'm not sure you're going to find an authoritative answer for this question. And I'd assume that it boils down to a matter of style (preference) rather than constraints. You could use bullet points, but perhaps you'd prefer a more flowing style. Personally. I'd choose your first version, with an 'or' after the second semicolon. I prefer the 'outside-the-quote' sectioning punctuation, though I'd not worry about using !"; or ?"; (or even .";) if necessary. I doubt you'll find an endorsement closer than the following (listed sentences but not quoted sentences) from uno.edu/lrc/writingcenter which recommends:

Semicolons are generally used for lists of sentences. Although some grammar handbooks agree that short sentences that all follow the same grammatical pattern

(I came, I saw, I conquered)

can be separated by commas, it is safer to use semicolons:

Francis Wayland Thurston was appalled at the statue he found: it was a dragon; it was an octopus; it was a monster.

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