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If I want to mention the word "furlong", for example, should I use furlong, "furlong", or 'furlong'? Also, am I correct in putting the punctuation outside the quotes?

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I think that this question would be better fit for Writers.SE because it's about style –  simchona Sep 11 '11 at 0:01
The answer is regional for " compared to ' and for punctuation inside or outside. –  GEdgar Sep 11 '11 at 0:02
What do you mean by "mention"? –  Karl Knechtel Sep 11 '11 at 8:41
I mean mention the word as a word rather than use it, in this case as a unit of distance. –  xpda Sep 11 '11 at 12:53
This question doesn't meet the bar for quality, it's trivially answered with a single reference book. –  Nathan C. Tresch Jul 30 '12 at 23:49

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Any of those options will work, but if you refer to words more than once you should take care to use the same convention in each place. Italics seem the best option if you can use styled text, but styles aren't always available.

It's conventional to place punctuation marks inside quotes instead of outside. There are a lot of situations where that practice leads to ambiguity, though, such as when instructing the reader to type something:

Click in the text field and type "salami".

It's good to know the accepted convention and follow it when you possible, but convention should take a back seat to clarity. A typographic convention, such as using italics instead of quotes, can solve the problem by eliminating the quotes, but even then it's not always easy to tell if a punctuation mark like a period is italicized or not:

Click in the text field and type salami.

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This is a really good question. I don't know why you think it's either trivial. Use italics when writing about words as words, or letters as letters (to indicate the use–mention distinction). When italics would cause confusion, quotation marks may be used to distinguish words as words.

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This can depend on the manual of style being adhered to. –  American Luke Dec 16 '13 at 18:48

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