Periods and commas inside or outside quotation marks?

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  maxiuomc48 5 months ago.

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  • #346886

    maxiuomc48
    Participant

    So in the United States, it is the convention to place periods and commas inside of quotation marks even if they are not part of the quoted material.

    This website explains it:
    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/quotation.htm

    Here is an example from the website:
    American convention: My favorite poem is Robert Frost’s “Design.”
    British convention: My favorite poem is Robert Frost’s “Design”.

    The website explains that the American style came about because of typographical reasons where they wanted to protect the typeface of periods and commas from breaking off of the type (piece of metal that makes the character) itself, because the typeface could break off if you put the periods and commas after the quotation marks.

    So here is my dilemma, do I follow the American convention even though the period or comma might not actually be part of the quoted text, or do I follow the British convention and risk the U.S. readers and literary agents thinking that I don’t know what I’m doing?

    So if you were an indie author (self publisher) or actually are an indie author, what would you do?

    And if you are not self publishing and are submitting your manuscript to a literary agent, what would you do?

  • #655777

    jIPPity
    Participant

    I would certainly follow American custom. And I submit to literary agents.

    –Warren

  • #655778

    Anonymous

    That American convention threw me. I have never put the period inside the quotes like that. In dialogue, yes, but not when using a title. Maybe the rules have changed since I was in grade school (some 50+ years ago 😕 ) but I’ve never done it and probably never will. 🙄

  • #655779

    jIPPity
    Participant

    I’m sorry, I read your original post too fast and assumed you were talking about dialogue, which you clearly were not. My bad.

    In referring to titles, as in the example you give, I would follow the British custom–period or comma after the quotation marks. Which is what I do when it comes up in my writing.

    Again, my apologies for having misread you.

    –Warren

  • #655780

    maxiuomc48
    Participant

    Its okay wdarcy, no problem. 🙂

    And thanks wdarcy and ostarella for your replies.

    The website I quoted from says that it is sponsored by the Capital Community College Foundation, and I looked at Wikipedia for “Quotation marks in English” and they back up the website I quoted from.

    Wikipedia also says that putting the periods and commas inside the quotation marks is the style usually recommended by “The Chicago Manual of Style and most other American style guides” and one of the examples Wikipedia gave was this: The title of the song was “Gloria,” which many already knew.

    So I wonder why more people don’t know about the U.S. practice?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_marks_in_English#U.S._practice

    (The rest of this post is a direct quote from the above Wikipedia article.)

    U.S. practice[edit]
    In the United States, the prevailing style is called American style,[15] whereby commas and periods are almost always placed inside closing quotation marks.[19][20][21][22][23] This style of punctuation is common in the U.S. and to a lesser extent, Canada as well, and is the style usually recommended by The Chicago Manual of Style and most other American style guides. (However, some American style guides specific to certain specialties, such as linguistics, prefer the British style.[24][unreliable source] For example, the journal Language of the Linguistic Society of America requires that the closing quotation mark precede the period or comma unless that period or comma is “a necessary part of the quoted matter”.)[12] When dealing with words-as-words, short-form works and sentence fragments, standard American style places periods and commas inside the quotation marks:

    “Carefree,” in general, means “free from care or anxiety.”
    The title of the song was “Gloria,” which many already knew.
    She said she felt “free from care and anxiety.”

  • #655781

    Anonymous

    Yeah, even though several websites I looked at also said American usage is inside the quotes, it’s just something I was never taught and have never used. I was taught that whatever is inside the quotes is a ‘whole’. Thus, the title is ‘Gloria’, not ‘Gloria,’; the definition is for ‘carefree’, not for ‘carefree,’; and I would’ve been called out had I not put a period after ‘anxiety.” ‘

    All in all, I don’t know that it’s that noticeable, as long as you’re consistent. In the end, you do it the way the publisher wants it regardless. 😉

  • #655782

    sherryherrod263
    Participant

    The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS), says, for the example given, the correct method is to place the period outside the quotation marks for American writing. Because the quotation marks call out a title, inside the quotes the period becomes part of the title. Since we know the actual title does not contain that period, it must sit outside the quotes to indicate the end of the sentence.

    I’d say something snarky, like, “If it’s on the internet it has to be true, right?”, but CMoS is available online, also. 😆

    Question for the British members: What is the go-to final word for writers, editors, and publishers over there?

  • #655783

    cypher
    Participant

    MikePhillip wrote:
    > The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS), says, for the example given, the
    > correct method is to place the period outside the quotation marks for
    > American writing. Because the quotation marks call out a title, inside the
    > quotes the period becomes part of the title. Since we know the actual
    > title does not contain that period, is must sit outside the quotes to
    > indicate the end of the sentence.
    >
    > I’d say something snarky, like, “If it’s on the internet it has to be
    > true, right?”, but CMoS is available online, also. 😆
    >
    > Question for the British members: What is the go-to final word for
    > writers, editors, and publishers over there?

    Well, for what it is worth, I am 81 years old, born in England and have lived in America now for twenty-two years. If I quote a title, I use italics to sidestep this tiresome difference of style, or I put the period (full stop to me) outside the quote marks. Punctuation is not the only pitfall. Everyone knows about leaving out the u in many words, and changing the c to an s in nouns like practice, licence, etc. [Practise (with an s) is a verb in English.] Then there are differences in pronunciation, too, which spoil poetry. “Dawn” in America sounds like “darn” to an English speaker. In my poem “Powderpuff Petticoats” I had to change “the faint mists of dawn” to “the faint mists of morn” to make it rhyme. I try to target English markets to avoid these conflicts.

  • #655784

    maxiuomc48
    Participant

    Thanks for the input and replies everyone. 🙂

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