Punctuation Inside or Outside Quotation Marks?
Punctuation Inside or Outside Quotations?Should punctuation go inside or outside quotation marks? Unfortunately, the rules governing whether to place punctuation inside or outside quotation marks are not straightforward and they depend on whether you are following US or UK writing conventions. Here is a summary of the more-detailed table below:
|Commas and Periods (Full Stops)||inside in the US, outside in the UK||"I know," she said. ()|
"I know", she said. ()
|Semicolons and Colons||outside||There are two meanings for "381": an activist group and I love you.|
|Exclamation Marks and Question Marks||inside or outside according to logic||She asked, "Do you love me?"|
Did she say, "I love you"?
The US and UK Conventions for Commas and Periods (Full Stops) Are DifferentLook at the first comma and the final period (full stop) in the example below. Should they be inside or outside the quotation marks? Well, it depends what writing convention you're following. This example is written in the US writing convention.
- "Bindle," to today’s youth, means "a small pack of drug powder." ()
- "Bindle", to today’s youth, means "a small pack of drug powder". ()
Here's some good advice: Identify your local convention (either in a work policy or a decent newspaper) and then be consistent.
A More Detailed Explanation of Punctuation Inside or Outside Quotations
|Punctuation||UK Convention||US Convention|
|. and ,||Place . and , outside (unless it appears in the original).
||Place . and , inside.
|! and ?||Place ! and ? inside or outside according to logic.
The second example is not a question, but it ends in a question mark. For neatness, it is acceptable to use just one end mark. Under US convention, you should only use one end mark. Under the UK convention, if you're a real logic freak, you can use two end marks (if you must).
|: and ;||Place : and ; outside (unless it appears in the original).
|?, ! and .||Don't double up with end marks. But, if you must, you can.
(Two question marks? The sentence is a question, and the quotation is a question.)
|Don't double up with end marks.
|More on ?, ! and .||Don't end a quotation with . if it doesn't end the whole sentence.