1
  • The most common one is "vs.."
  • The most common one is "vs.".
  • The most common one is "vs."

Which of the above features the correct usage of a period after an abbreviation inside quotation marks?

And, also, which of the below is correct?

  • Richard, Rich, Rick, etc..
  • Richard, Rich, Rick, etc.
  • The second question is certainly a duplicate. As for the first, the quote needs to be exact. As I don't use periods at the end of abbreviations, I would simply write << I used 'vs'. >> Double punctuation being best avoided where possible rather than completely unacceptable in 'BrE', I'd have to write << But some people used 'vs.'. >>for clarity. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 5 '18 at 10:52
  • Well, my question is really more directed toward American English users, judging by the double quotes. In American English, as you know, periods are put inside quotation marks, and I use most abbreviations with periods, except those that require you not use them. So, I'm in quite the dilemma here. – kafir Jun 5 '18 at 12:07
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In actually, the question of abbreviations next to periods is covered by style rules that are separate (although visually related) from those involving closing quotation marks and periods.

The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed., 6.123) says this:

When an abbreviation or other expression that ends with a period occurs at the end a sentence, no additional period follows . . . Of course, when any other mark of punctuation is needed immediately after the period, both the period and the additional mark appear.

The study was funded by Mulvehill & Co.
Johnson et al., in How to Survive, describe such an ordeal.

Therefore, the correct uses of periods in your examples are:

The most common one is "vs."
Richard, Rich, Rick, etc.

Note that the question of the period in vs. before the final quotation mark is irrelevant in this specific situation, because the period here is actually part of the abbreviation; the terminal period is simply absent. (Or, in another sense, the existing single period is doing "double duty.")


As with other discussion around closing quotation marks and punctuation, an interesting note can be found in Chicago (6.13) regarding abbreviations with periods next to other periods—in particular, the third example:

When an entire independent sentence is enclosed in parentheses or square brackets, the period belongs inside the closing parenthesis or bracket. When matter in parentheses or brackets, even a grammatically complete sentence, is included within another sentence, the period belongs outside . . . Avoid enclosing more than one complete sentence within another sentence. In the third example, two periods are required—one for the abbreviation etc. and one for the sentence as a whole, outside the parentheses.

Fiorelli insisted on rewriting the paragraph. (His newfound ability to type was both a blessing and a curse.)

Felipe had left an angry message for Isadora on the mantel (she noticed it while glancing in the mirror).

His chilly demeanor gave him an affinity for the noble gases (helium, neon, etc.).

  • Thank you for a great, well-articulated, and straightforward answer. – kafir Jun 6 '18 at 7:35
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Kafir, to answer your question directly would be as follows:

•The most common one is "vs.". (This is correct because the abbreviation has a period denoting the status; and the sentence has a period showing terminality.)

•Richard, Rich, Rick, etc. (This is correct as a lone period is required to denote both the abbreviation and sentence terminality. I.E. double-duty.

-2

The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.) recommends, in section 6.8, that if a period or comma occurs at the end of quoted text, it should appear inside the quotation marks, regardless of whether the period or comma comes from the source text. However, section 6.10 offers an alternative system where commas and periods can be placed after quotation marks, if the comma or period is not in the original text.

Regarding double punctuation, the Chicago Manual's advice (in section 6.122) is much simpler: never use a double period ('etc..'), but always use the period before a comma ('etc.,'). As far as I am aware, this practice is universal in written English. When you add question marks and exclamation points there is less agreement; for that sort of rare case, I would suggest that formal rules are less important than using judgment to decide what is least confusing.

Putting all that together, you get the simple rule that .. or .". must never appear, and you can work backward from there.

  • If a sentence ends with an abbreviation, use a single period:

    You can call me Richard, Rich, Rick etc. Don't call me Steve.

  • If a sentence ends with a quotation, and the quotation has a period at the end, then there should be no period after the quotation mark:

    The most common one is "vs." Sometimes people also say "against."

  • If the sentence ends with a quotation, and you don't want to include a period at the end of the quoted text (either for precision, or as a stylistic preference), then put a period after the quotation mark:

    Consider John F Kennedy's advice to "ask not what your country can do for you".

Personally, I prefer to put periods after quotation marks because I believe it is easier to read. As long as you're consistent, either style is widely accepted. The advantage of the "American" style is that it always works; if you're using the "British" style, you may have to deal with exceptions. For instance, if a quotation ends with 'etc.', then you can't put that period outside the quotation marks because it is part of the word's spelling.

  • [2] Which would mean that in the American style, we put commas and periods inside; we put question and exclamation marks that aren't part of the quoted material outside, and put the aforementioned inside if they indeeed are part of the quoted material (CMOS 17, section 6.70). – kafir Jun 5 '18 at 14:20
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    [1] "If the sentence ends with a quotation, and the quotation doesn't have a period at the end (either because it's not in the original, or because you are using 'British' style and prefer not to put a period before a quotation mark), then put a period after the quotation mark." So, I just read the part you mentioned of the Chicago Manual of Style and it doesn't agree with you. It says that period and commas precede end quotes, but that, in an alternate system (usually referred to as the "British style"), the prior marks of quotation are not put inside unless part of the quoted material. – kafir Jun 5 '18 at 14:24
  • @kafir The answer about CMOS and the British style is wrong. First, British styles uses single quotation marks. Second, punctuation is inside the final quotation mark if it's part of the quotation itself. In the example here, it is. – Jason Bassford Jun 5 '18 at 14:29
  • @JasonBassford I am well aware that single quotation marks are used in the British style; not relevant. What I am saying is this: Period and commas precede (come before) quotation marks, according to the CMOS. You say that you can put periods after end quotes if they are not part of the quoted material, but that is wrong. That only applies to question marks and exclamation points. That's what both the Chicago Manual of Style and the APA Style Blog say. – kafir Jun 5 '18 at 14:40
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    @bobtato I mean, if we're going by the CMOS here, you can't really do that (use a period following an end quote for "precision" or "stylistic choice," as you put it). I don't think the CMOS should tell you what to do, though, if you're not setting out to follow it. You can just kind of create your own style, I guess, but I don't know how that would go over in official documentation. But, then again, who am I to judge? – kafir Jun 5 '18 at 15:15

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