JS Tip 56: From the Writing Workshops: Periods, Commas, and Quotation Marks

Today’s tip is simple counsel, but counsel you often see violated: Always place periods and commas inside closing quotation marks.

Consider these examples:

A.  She said, “Let’s sign the contract.”

B.   She said, “Let’s sign the contract”.

“A” is right; “B” is wrong. That’s it.

The counsel has been standard in the United States since the mid 1800s. Printers decided the period inside the quotation marks looked neater on the page.

Here’s what the authoritative Chicago Manual of Style says: “When a declarative or an imperative sentence is enclosed in quotation marks, the period ending the sentence is, in what may be called the American Style, placed inside the closing quotation marks.”

The Manual calls it “the American Style” because in Britain, Canada, and other Commonwealth cultures, periods and commas go inside or outside the closing quotation marks, depending on the context.

In the United States, inside. Always. No exceptions.

If you have questions, let us know. We’re glad to help. We love this stuff.