Punctuation in or outside quotation (speech) marks
The Quick AnswerThis page covers whether periods (full stops), commas and other punctuation marks should be placed before or after a speech mark.
Unfortunately, the rules governing whether to place punctuation inside or outside speech marks are not straightforward. The quick summary is:
- Semicolons and colons – outside
- Exclamation marks and question marks – according to logic
- Commas and periods/full stops – inside in the US, outside in the UK.
Punctuation Inside or Outside Quotations?Look at the first comma and the final period/full stop in the example below. Should they be inside or outside the quotation marks?
- "Bindle", to today’s youth, means "a small pack of drug powder".
|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.