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Is it ever acceptable for a period to come after a quote at the end of a sentence?
How should I punctuate around quotes?

I graduated with an English Major from Radford University back in 1991, but over the years I've done a lot of technical writing as a web developer, and it does not make sense to me to put punctuation inside quoted terms. For instance...

When you find the item marked 'Lever A', please move it near 'Lever B'.

...rather than...

When you find the item marked 'Lever A,' please move it near 'Lever B.'

The reason is because I'm not quoting what someone said.

Of course, when we use double quotes or single quotes for these terms, that's just a problem with typography where we might not have italics available to us. The best way to compose this, then, would be:

When you find the item marked Lever A, please move it near Lever B.

However, sometimes when composing an email or other form of communication where italics may not necessarily be available to us, it appears that double quotes or single quotes are used and therefore we get stuck in this problem.

Is it appropriate to put common sentence structure punctuation outside quoted terms in cases where italics is not available?

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marked as duplicate by aedia λ, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, waiwai933 Oct 12 '11 at 0:07

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Thank you for pointing out the dupe. I found Peter Eisentraut's answer to be the acceptable one to me from "Is it ever acceptable for a period to come after a quote at the end of a sentence?". I believe we Americans need to change our ways because the old typographical standard is obsolete. More and more, we are writing about computer programming. Therefore, it is important we get this right. – Volomike Oct 11 '11 at 17:51

1 Answer 1

Unless the comma and the full stop are actually on the sign, I’d place them after the final quotation mark in each case. But then, I’m British. I believe American practice is always to place the final quotation mark outside any other punctuation.

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I think standard technical usage is to put any punctuation outside the quotes if it would be confused as part of the instruction. – mgb Oct 11 '11 at 19:13
Glad to hear it. – Barrie England Oct 11 '11 at 19:24
do you have your example the right way round? Isn't US usage to put the puncuation INSIDE the quotes - hence the confusion? – mgb Oct 11 '11 at 19:41
@MartinBeckett: Yes, you’re right, but I didn’t pursue it at the time because the question was closed. To clarify, American practice, as I understand it, is to put all other punctuation inside the quotation marks, regardless of whether or not they form part of the quotation. British practice is to place inside the quotation marks only such other punctuation as appears in what is being quoted. – Barrie England Nov 18 '11 at 17:12

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