Your Regularly Scheduled Reminder to Place Periods Inside Quotation Marks


With each passing day, it gets more acceptable to punctuate sentences like this:

Steve said his necktie was "way ugly".

But acceptability in punctuation isn't the same as acceptability in usage. Unlike words and idioms, punctuation isn't an organic, naturally evolving thing. It's a constructed set of rules. So whereas using the word "friend" as a verb becomes correct when enough people do so, punctuation rules aren't crowdsourced.

American punctuation rules on where to put a period or comma relative to a closing quotation mark have not changed. Unlike in British punctuation, a period or comma always comes before a closing quotation mark. A colon or semicolon always comes after. And a question mark or exclamation point can come before if it applies to the stuff inside the quote, or after it if applies to the whole sentence. Here are correct examples of each.

Steve said his necktie was "way ugly."

The word "totally," as has been mentioned, is overused in this article.

Here's what to do when you encounter a sign that reads "Do not enter": do not enter.

They explained the terms "shooting the pier"; the explanation was confusing.

You sometimes see the company name written "Yahoo!"

That guy is what I call a total "yahoo"!

Alfred E. Neuman's catchphrase is "What, me worry?"

Is it true he called you "dude"?

Is Bart Simpson's catchphrase still "Ay, caramba!"?


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