Use of " " and punctuation

I was taught that a period or a comman go inside quotation marks.
(“I didn’t say that,” he said.)

But that a ? or ! or other punctuation goes outside. (“Did he say that”?)

Is this correct?

The question mark goes inside the quotes if the quote is a question. Your second example would be “Did he say that?”

If the quote is part of a larger question, the question mark goes outside.
Ex: Who just said, “yes, I said that”?

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

Right, but you should capitalize the beginning of the quotation.

As to commas at the end of quotes, apparently the general rule is as stated here; however, I figure that a simple noun or noun phrase should not have the comma stuck inside it. More generally, I don’t think the “outside” rule should control unless the quotation is a full sentence in itself or a significant part of a sentence structure that forms a natural continuation of the quoting sentence.

Also, of course, if the quoting sentence should continue on after the quotation, any period that would otherwise be within the parenthesis closure at the end of the quotation should be changed to a comma.

But now, I have another question of this sort: Should one capitalize the first word of a sentence following a colon? Always, under certain circumstances, or what?

I further note that I was taught to type two spaces after sentence-closing punctuation, including after a colon, but I’net forms like this collapse such gaps to only one space.


According to the style-sheets that I had to follow when I was a full-time magazine writer, things went inside the quotation marks. The Euro-press (at least thge music press there) was much more lax on this rule and inconsistantly enforced it, IIRC.

Yer pal,

The usual rule is to put the punctuation inside the quotation mark, but I find that unnatural unless the quotation itself calls for punctuation, as in the first example Diceman gives. (Programming languages insist on the punctuation being outside; quotation marks indicate literal text.) I can live with it either way.

I also type two spaces between sentences, but the rule seems to be changing. It probably comes from the mono-spaced typewriter days, but now many word processors automatically insert extra room, something like 1.5 spaces. I find that the extra space makes a noticeable difference in readability.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

And using only one space is kind of ugly too. See the closing parenthesis above, for example.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

According to the Associated Press style guide (and take that as authoritatively as you please), the first word following a colon should only be capitalized if it is a proper noun or the beginning of another sentence. Otherwise, leave it down.

As far as the quote-marks-and-question-mark-question, the AP guide also says to place it inside or out, depending on the meaning, giving as examples:

Who wrote “Gone With The Wind”?
He asked, “How long will it take?”

“I love God! He’s so deliciously evil!” - Stewie Griffin, Family Guy

One must always place a comma or period inside the quotation marks, even if it looks wrong. As the ancient Chinese proverb says, “The Law may upset reason, but reason must never upset the Law.”

The rules are different for semicolons, question marks, exclamation points et al. They are enclosed in the quotation marks if they are part of the quotation – otherwise not.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

Anybody think bj(zero)rn will bouonce in here and enlighten us?

Dopeler effect:
The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

There is a British/American slant to this question also. “Correct” British usage is to put the punctuation outside the quotes, “correct” American usage puts it inside.

Personally, outside seems more reasonable to me, so I go my own way. I try to put the punctuation that belongs with the quotation inside the quote marks and the punctuation that belongs to the sentence outside the quotes. I know I’m violating someone’s rules somewhere but I’m not being graded and I think my system is more logical. I think it has a lot to do with my years of programming. So, in this one tiny way, I express my individuality and exist independent of the mob.

“And comb London’s teeming millions for him? Had we but world enough and time.”
Dorothy L. Sayers
Murder Must Advertise

Someone somewhere else on the Web wrote that the seemingly illogical practice of .s and ,s always preceding the "s was formulated by printers to protect the most fragile type. Therefore he suggested we web-denizens dump that rule. I still generally follow it myself but do appreciate being able to claim that I am purposely correcting a past wrong, as we pioneer this new medium, if I do make a typo.


Hey, I think I’m Plutonial again and part of your mob. Sorry about you’re losing your “individuality” on my account.