"Do we have to call it a 'kombi'?"

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    I never do unless it's inside the word:: "Is can't short for can not?" Not sure if that's "correct" though. – Catija May 22 '15 at 17:40
  • "Do we have to call it a kombi?" – 4-K May 22 '15 at 18:27
  • This is off-topic. You might like to visit Writing. – curiousdannii May 23 '15 at 0:06
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    I disagree with the assertion that matters of punctuation and/or style are off topic. I think that they fall well within the ambit of English usage, that people have questions about them, and that those questions can be reasonably and usefully answered. – Sven Yargs May 23 '15 at 2:09
  • What is the purpose of using both italicisation and quotes? – Edwin Ashworth May 24 '15 at 22:03

This is ultimately a style question, and style questions are the province of individual authors or of the publishing houses responsible for producing their work.

At the magazines and book publishers where I've worked, we generally followed the "primary system" recommended in Chicago Manual of Style, fifteenth edition (2003):

6.3 Punctuation and font: primary system. All punctuation marks should appear in the same font—roman or italic—as the main or surrounding text, except for punctuation that belongs to a title or an exclamation in a different font.

Rendered in accordance with this guideline, your example would appear this way:

"Do we have to call it a 'kombi'?"

As you can see, kombi is italicized, but the single open and close quotation marks, the question mark, and the double close quotation mark are not.

Chicago also presents (at 6.5) an alternative system in which a period, comma, colon, or semicolon immediately following an italicized word receives italic treatment along with the word preceding it. But that system wouldn't apply to the quotation marks or to the question mark in your example in any case.

The one exception to Chicago's guideline 6.3 that some of the magazines where I've worked introduced involved apostrophes following italicized words: Because the apostrophe often crashed into the final italicized letter of the preceding word, we set the apostrophe as italic, too. Thus:

Finding a spiritually uplifting message in The Trial' s predominant mood of grim determinism isn't easy.

It is worth reiterating, though, that style decisions regarding punctuation are not matters of universal rule, but of individual or house preference. As in other such matters, the most important practical consideration is to maintain consistency across the book, article, or publication series.

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