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Should Punctuation Be Inside or Outside of the Quotation Marks?

August 9th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Is the following paragraph punctuated as it should be?

The phrase “value of the gift” in 26 U.S.C. § 6324(b) means what it says––not “dollar amount of the gift at the time of donation”, but “what the gift is worth”. “Value” is not “face value”.

I have decided the British, logical, style is best, though with a lingering gut feeling that the American style looks better with periods (though not with commas). Wikipedia has a good discussion. Part of it is:

“The prevailing style in the United Kingdom and other non-American locales—called British style[13] and logical quotation[14][15]—is to include within quotation marks only those punctuation marks that appeared in the quoted material but otherwise to place punctuation outside the closing quotation marks.[15] Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English Usage provides an early example of the rule: “All signs of punctuation used with words in quotation marks must be placed according to the sense.”[16] When dealing with words-as-words, short-form works and sentence fragments, this style places periods and commas outside the quotation marks:

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

When dealing with direct speech, British placement depends on whether or not the quoted statement is complete or a fragment. According to the British style guide Butcher’s Copy-editing, American style should be used when writing fiction.[17] In non-fiction, some British publishers may permit placing punctuation that is not part of the person’s speech inside the quotation marks but prefer that it be placed outside.[17] Periods and commas that are part of the person’s speech are permitted inside the quotation marks regardless of whether the material is fiction.[17]

“Today,” said Cinderella, “I feel free from care and anxiety.” (fiction)
“Today”, said the Prime Minister, “I feel free from care and anxiety.” (preferred in non-fiction)
“Today I feel happy,” said the woman, “carefree, and well.” (regardless)

In the U.S., the prevailing style is called American style,[13] whereby commas and periods are almost always placed inside closing quotation marks.[18] This style of punctuation is common in the U.S. and Canada, and is the style usually recommended by The Chicago Manual of Style and most other American style guides.”

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