English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Possible Duplicate:
How should I punctuate around quotes?

I've been writing a letter to an editor, and one line of my response reads:

In your article "What Makes Free Will Free?" you mention...

My question is: where should I place a comma to transition from the quoted article title to words you mention... after it? Should I place the comma in the quotes, or outside the quotes? Traditionally, I would place it in the quotes, but I wasn't too sure if I could place a comma right after a question mark like that.

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Apr 28 '12 at 10:38

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.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The quotes here delimit the article title. Since the comma is not part of the title, it belongs outside of the quotes. If this were a book title, it would be either italicized or underlined, but the comma would not. The same logic should apply here.

share|improve this answer
Thank you for your response. – Mike Gates Oct 31 '11 at 2:20
Can you please back this up with a reference? My style guide (Turabian's Manual) says that if a title ends with a question mark or exclamation point, no punctuation should follow it, i.e. no comma should be used at all. (Sorry to comment so long after the fact; I'm now looking at this question in reference to a newer one.) – zpletan Apr 25 '12 at 21:52
@zpletan Isn't that rule for bibliographies, not sentences? – D Krueger Apr 29 '12 at 18:55
@DKrueger, yes, but if it applies to titles, even if used in text, why shouldn't it apply to regular speech? – zpletan Apr 29 '12 at 21:10

There's no need for a comma after the quotation exactly because you have the question mark. It will look odd. If the question mark weren't there, you'd put a comma after the quotes.

share|improve this answer
Of placing a comma inside the quotation marks, R L Trask writes in ‘The Penguin Guide to Punctuation’, ‘This makes no sense, and it contradicts the usual principles of punctuation, but for some reason this illogical style has become almost universal in English.’ – Barrie England Oct 29 '11 at 18:47
@ Barrie England: I'm not sure I understand this. Is the comma inside the quotation marks considered correct? I know it's correct right after the quotes. – Irene Oct 29 '11 at 19:06
He means that in most texts the comma will be found inside the final quotation marks, but that he doesn't approve of it being there. He goes on to say that if you put the comma outside the quotation marks 'where it belongs . . . you will find most of the world lined up against you.' – Barrie England Oct 29 '11 at 19:33
Thank you for your response. – Mike Gates Oct 31 '11 at 2:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.