DNS has a similar feature, but instead of “Work,” “Home,” and “Fax,” it has special record types that indicate which IP address you want from the server.

I'm British, but am publishing in the US. I'm aware that in British English, these commas would go outside the quotes surrounding Work, Home and Fax. In US English, they should go within the quotation marks. My question is, does this example look odd to Americans? It looks terribly chaotic to me, but if that's solely because I'm used to a different convention, then that's no problem.

If it does look strange to Americans, how would you recommend including these terms in my sentence? Is it perfectly valid to just italicize instead?

Another example:

In this case, “litmus.com” resolves to “”.

Placing the period within the quotation marks actually makes the statement incorrect, from a technical perspective. Should I just refrain from trying to quote technical terms? Is there a convention for including terms such as those used above?

1 Answer 1


You'll find that in fact both styles can be found in use in British English, and both styles can be found in use in American English, but indeed the style you describe as British is more common there while the style you describe as American is more common there.

And yes, it's mostly a matter of things looking strange to you because you are used to the other style.

When it comes to your last example, you are indeed well advised to place the period outside of the quotation marks to avoid ambiguity, since you are quoting a piece in which the period has a technical meaning. For this very reason, writers in computer science, programming, and related fields often favour the British style even if American (referred to in such cases as "logical style" because the position of the marks reflects to logic of which passage is quoting which) at least when writing on such topics. You might even opt to pre-empt any subediting with a pre-emptive stet.

  • 2
    All these things are true. I would add that often enough one can deftly dodge the issue simply by setting such terms in an italic face, especially given that this is clearly a use–mention issue.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 17:11
  • 1
    @tchrist or perhaps in this case a monospaced font to represent computer input, output, or code.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 7:48

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