I recently had the worst feeling that I’d been doing punctuation near quotation marks all wrong—for like 7,000 posts—since 1999. I probably have, but I can start doing doing the right thing now if I just capture the basic rules.
So I did some reading and here’s my summary.
By the way, make sure you’re using quotes correctly.
- Periods, commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes are always outside the quotes.
- Question marks and exclamation points require you to think about who is asking the question or being emotional. Is the question or emotion part of the quote? If it is, put it inside. If it’s part of the outside sentence that the quote is in, put them outside.
Seems simple enough: outside unless it’s a question mark or exclamation point in the quote itself.
Hope this helps someone.
- American English says you should put periods and commas inside the quotation marks, but I’ve always thought that looked horrible, and recently just learned (for this post) that the British put them outside—you know, where they belong.