Punctuation Rules & Quotation Marks

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.

If the punctuation matters, put it inside.

  1. Commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes are always outside the quotes.

  2. If the quote is capturing something emotional or important said by the person, include the period or exclamation inside the quotes.

  3. For periods, Americans generally put the period inside the quotes, and the British generally put them outside.

Hope this helps someone.


  1. 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.

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