When stating a book title, is the comma before or after the quotations?

  • Book titles normally go in italics, not quotation marks. – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 2:10

The best possible answer is: whatever your teacher thinks is correct. I'm not kidding. Sometimes teachers just get it wrong, and it's often best to just keep your mouth shut and go along with what the teacher thinks. The normal rules about quotation marks are also slightly different in Britain and America.

With that out of the way, here's the answer. If you follow the rules of British English, put the comma outside the quotes:

In the book "Charlotte's Web", Charlotte is a spider who wants to....

because that matches the structure of the sentence. If you follow the rules of American English, put the comma inside the quotes:

In the book "Charlotte's Web," Charlotte is a spider who wants to....

because that looks prettier.

In British English, the rule about putting a comma inside the quotes is only for when you are quoting what somebody said:

"Look at Charlotte's web," said Wilbur.

If you are using a word processor, it's probably better to use an italic font to mark the title, like this:

In the book Charlotte's Web, Charlotte is a spider who wants to....

but, again, this depends on your teacher's attitude.

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  • This answer is incorrect for traditional American typography, where commas and periods never follow the quotation mark. – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 2:09
  • Even in a quoted title? I didn't know that. I'll amend my answer accordingly. – Pitarou Oct 29 '13 at 2:11
  • Yes: The traditional American rules for periods, commas, and quotation marks are based purely on typographical aesthetics and have nothing to do with content or logic. – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 2:12
  • On a related note: There are similar rules for whether to italicize trailing commas and periods. Some typographers follow the meaning of the text, while others (including me) follow purely aesthetic rules. – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 2:16
  • Thanks for the edit. It's oversimplifying a bit to call this a US/UK difference (or a logical/aesthetic difference), but close enough for my +1. – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 2:17

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