Let's look at some of the rules for what to do with quotation marks and punctuation.

Rule 1:

Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.


Bob said, "I hate putting periods inside quotation marks." ILLOGICAL
"Yeah commas inside quotes are pretty freaking stupid also," said Jim. CONFUSING

Rule 2:

Use single quotation marks for quotations within quotations and place the period inside both.


He said, "Rick was like, 'not the single quote within a quote.'" HUH??

Rule 3:

Question marks and exclamation marks depend on the context. If the whole sentence is a question or exclamation put the punctuation outside. If only part of the sentence is a question or exclamation put the punctuation on the inside.


Bob asked, "Why is this so damn confusing"? LOGICAL
The whole time Bob was listening to, "Is Punctuation For Me?" WHERE'S THE PERIOD AT THE END?
Meanwhile, Jim was outraged inside and telling himself, "THIS IS SO FREAKING STUPID!" STILL NO PERIOD?
Bob had to agree, although deep inside he thought, "why do I have to follow these stupid rules?" I CAN HAZ PERIOD?

Rule 4:

Semicolons, colons, asterisks, and dashes always go outside the quotation marks.


"Finally this one makes sense" -- the precise words Bob said as he found coherence. SIMPLE

Here's a summary of the rule regarding this stuff:

In American English, periods and commas always go inside the closing quotation mark; semicolons, colons, asterisks, and dashes always go outside the closing quotation mark; and question marks and exclamation points require that you analyze the sentence and make a decision based on context.

Why is it done this way? Tradition. It might be the grammatically correct thing to do, but it is the logically incorrect thing to do.

All you have to do is look at anything that requires proper structure like a computer programming language and you will find that it only works one way. Punctuation never goes inside quotes in computer programming. Quotes are their own separate piece of information, as they should be. If computer programs, which are run on logic, keep the punctuation outside, then I'm going to also.

Research findings

Do the thing that is logical, consistent and that provides the most clarity to the reader. Put your period outside the quotes. I do and you should too.

 Filed under: Misc, Grammar, Quotation Marks, Periods, Bad Ideas

About The Author

Quinton Figueroa

Quinton Figueroa

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El Paso, Texas

I am an entrepreneur at heart. Throughout my whole life I have enjoyed building real businesses by solving real problems. Business is life itself. My goal with businesses is to help move the human ...


1 Comment

Jm: Yeah it doesn't make sense

Yeah it doesn't make sense how periods aren't on the outside of the quotation marks. I thought about doing it the logical way and tried it yet had a hard time with the difference in appearance.

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