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How should I punctuate around quotes?

I've been writing a letter to an editor, and one line of my response reads:

In your article "What Makes Free Will Free?" you mention...

My question is: where should I place a comma to transition from the quoted article title to words you mention... after it? Should I place the comma in the quotes, or outside the quotes? Traditionally, I would place it in the quotes, but I wasn't too sure if I could place a comma right after a question mark like that.


The quotes here delimit the article title. Since the comma is not part of the title, it belongs outside of the quotes. If this were a book title, it would be either italicized or underlined, but the comma would not. The same logic should apply here.

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    Can you please back this up with a reference? My style guide (Turabian's Manual) says that if a title ends with a question mark or exclamation point, no punctuation should follow it, i.e. no comma should be used at all. (Sorry to comment so long after the fact; I'm now looking at this question in reference to a newer one.) – zpletan Apr 25 '12 at 21:52
  • @zpletan Isn't that rule for bibliographies, not sentences? – D Krueger Apr 29 '12 at 18:55
  • @DKrueger, yes, but if it applies to titles, even if used in text, why shouldn't it apply to regular speech? – zpletan Apr 29 '12 at 21:10

There's no need for a comma after the quotation exactly because you have the question mark. It will look odd. If the question mark weren't there, you'd put a comma after the quotes.

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    Of placing a comma inside the quotation marks, R L Trask writes in ‘The Penguin Guide to Punctuation’, ‘This makes no sense, and it contradicts the usual principles of punctuation, but for some reason this illogical style has become almost universal in English.’ – Barrie England Oct 29 '11 at 18:47
  • @ Barrie England: I'm not sure I understand this. Is the comma inside the quotation marks considered correct? I know it's correct right after the quotes. – Irene Oct 29 '11 at 19:06
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    He means that in most texts the comma will be found inside the final quotation marks, but that he doesn't approve of it being there. He goes on to say that if you put the comma outside the quotation marks 'where it belongs . . . you will find most of the world lined up against you.' – Barrie England Oct 29 '11 at 19:33

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