For example, say I needed to specify that the following sentence should be written exactly as it appears: Use eye protection.

Example: The statement previously appeared in the document as "Use eye protection.".

In this situation, I would expect that I should need the inner period to specify that the period within the quotation marks is necessary and the second period is needed to signify that my sentence is finished.

Is this correct?

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    Per the Chicago Manual of Style the first period is sufficient unto the day. But you're free to find another style manual to follow or make up the rules for yourself. – deadrat Jul 1 '16 at 21:43
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    There is often a difference between American & British styles, In BrE, we tend to put the punctuation inside the quotation marks only if it is part of the quotation and outside otherwise. If you want to make it abundantly clear that the full-stop is part of the quotation, the only way would be to use 2 full-stops as you have shown (or specify it separately in words); otherwise, anyone just reading "... protection.' (in AmE style) would not know whether the full-stop is part of the quotation or is not part of the quotation but is included inside the quote marks merely for stylistic reasons. – TrevorD Jul 1 '16 at 22:41
  • @deadrat But would omitting the second full-stop, make it clear that the first full-stop is actually part of the quotation - which is what I understand OP to be asking? – TrevorD 6 mins ago – TrevorD Jul 1 '16 at 22:42
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    @TrevorD If I saw "Use eye protection.". I would assume typographical error. The only way to make it clear that the period is part of the quotation would be to use a block quote. In this case of specifying something to be written, I might add some explicit instruction like "include the period." – phoog Jul 1 '16 at 23:28
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    I would try to add a few more words after the quote: 'The statement previously appeared in the document as "Use eye protection." but has recently been changed for the sake of clarity.' Or just move the quote: 'The statement previously appeared as "Use eye protection." in the document.' – 1006a Jul 2 '16 at 0:52

I haven't seen any style guide that recommends using double periods (full stops) inside and outside a close quotation mark, which appears to be your central question. A number of style guides disagree about the preferability of placing the period inside or outside the close quotation mark (either as a blanket rule or in response to situational variables), but none that I know of votes for placing them inside and outside the close quotation mark.

The Chicago Manual of Style, fifteenth edition (2003), which reflects standard U.S. publishing practice on this particular issue, spreads its advice over a couple of sections:


6.8 Periods and commas. Periods and commas precede closing quotation marks, whether double or single. This is a traditional style, in use well before the first edition of this manual (1906). ...


6.122 No double period. When an expression that takes a period ends a sentence, no additional follows [cross reference omitted]. ...

In your example sentence

The statement previously appeared in the document as "Use eye protection.".

the period inside the quotation mark effectively ends the sentence, so Chicago 6.122 indicates that there should be no second period outside the close quotation mark.

Words into Type, third edition (1974) is even more succinct:

Use [of the period] with other marks. ... With quotation marks. When the period is used with closing quotation marks, place it inside [cross reference omitted].


Use [of quotation marks] with other marks. Set quotation marks outside of periods and commas.

Both of these Words into Type guidelines militate against putting a second period outside the close quotation mark in your example sentence.

The standard British style for handling end punctuation in relation to material within quotation marks is more nuanced than (and I think undeniably superior to) the standard U.S. style. Here is the general advice in The Oxford Guide to Style (2002):

5.13.2 Relative placing [of quotation marks] with other punctuation

Except when the matter is quoted for semantic or bibliographic scrutiny, the relationship in British practice between quotation marks and other marks or punctuation is according to sense. While the rules are somewhat lengthy to state in full, the common-sense approach is to do nothing that changes the meaning of the quotation or renders it confusing to read.


When the punctuation mark is not part of he quoted material, as in the case of single words and phrases, place it outside the closing mark. Usually only one mark of terminal punctuation is needed. When the quoted matter is a complete sentence or question, its terminal punctuation falls within the closing quotation mark, and is not duplicated by another mark outside the quotation mark: [examples omitted]

It follows under Oxford's guidelines that, since you are dealing with a quotation containing a complete sentence (with end punctuation)—

Use eye protection.

—you should put the quotation mark outside the period and not duplicate the period outside the quotation mark.

The upshot of all this is that Chicago, Words into Type, and Oxford agree that the punctuation of your sentence should be

The statement previously appeared in the document as "Use eye protection."

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For a sentence as simple as the one you're referring to the general rule would be to either place no punctuation at all inside the quote, or to allow the punctuation within the quotes to end both the primary sentence and the nested quote.

The cases that are more complicated are technical writing. Your sentence looks like it might be of a technical nature, but I'm going to reword it as an example that clearly falls into technical rules.

The wording needs to specify "Use eye protection."

To remove any ambiguity regarding the punctuation I would form the sentence in a technical style.

The wording needs to specify: "Use eye protection."

The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, section 5.97 indicates that this usage to be acceptable (but rare) in non-technical settings as well.

"to indicate a sequence in thought between two clauses that form a single sentence or to separate one clause from a second clause that contains an illustration or amplification of the first"

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