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Commas-Periods: Inside or Outside Quotation Marks?

By Judy Vorfeld

The Chicago Manual of Style, six­teenth edi­tion (6.9), says, “Periods and com­mas pre­cede clos­ing quo­ta­tion marks, whether dou­ble or single.”

Examples: She said, “I’ll be there soon.” … “When you are fin­ished,” he said, “we’ll leave.”

CMS also states that there are sev­eral excep­tions to this tra­di­tional style.

Then there is the British style, which places the period out­side when it punc­tu­ates the whole sen­tence, and inside when it punc­tu­ates only the quoted material.

So, if you’re in the U.S., you’ll prob­a­bly place your peri­ods and com­mas inside the clos­ing quo­ta­tion mark. Here’s more from Purdue Online Writing Lab.

Try to use quo­ta­tion marks spar­ingly. There’s a ten­dency today for peo­ple to use them to empha­size far too many words. They often use them in e-mail and on Web sites an a kind of infor­mal way to ital­i­cize a word or phrase, but peo­ple reg­u­larly use them when it’s not “nec­es­sary.” See exam­ples at the Gallery of Misused Quotation Marks.


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