[I am sure this question has been asked here before but I couldn't find anything - so please point me in the right direction!]

If I have a (italicised) title of a work that features some terminal punctuation (say, Guards! Guards!) at the end of a sentence that would otherwise receive its own terminal punctuation, does it still occur in the presence of the title? e.g.

I have just finished reading Guards! Guards!. Have you read Guards! Guards!? I detest Guards! Guards!!

With the two marks it seems clumsy, but with only that that concerns the title it seems accidentally emphatic!

  • A lot of people seem to have a dislike for the apparent redundancy, but, as you say, the omission results in accidental punctuation, in uncertain punctuation.
    – LPH
    Dec 25, 2022 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


As mentioned in the Punctuation Guide.com:

If a sentence otherwise ends with a question mark or exclamation point, the period is omitted.

And the examples are:

I've never seen Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I've never seen Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

He used to work at Yahoo!

He used to work at Yahoo!.

So for your case, the punctuation after the book title should be omitted when you use periods. If the sentence-end punctuation is an exclamation mark or a question mark, then the extra punctuation should be kept, but in this case, the book name ends with an exclamation mark already, so you don't need to repeat it. Your sentences should become:

I have just finished reading Guards! Guards!

Have you read Guards! Guards!?

I detest Guards! Guards!

For the question, you can convert it to an indirect question, like:

I wonder if you have read Guards! Guards!

  • Actually, if there is a question mark and an exclamation mark, you use both of them: Have you read Guards! Guards!? Dec 26, 2022 at 0:38
  • @PeterShor Edited my answer. Dec 26, 2022 at 0:44
  • Actually, I think if you have two question marks or two exclamation marks in a row, you delete one of them. It's only if you have both a ? and an ! that you should keep both. Dec 26, 2022 at 0:46
  • @PeterShor Good point, noted and edited. Dec 26, 2022 at 0:51
  • You have even yet again failed to correctly reference material written by others. Please review our Help Center and edit your post accordingly.
    – tchrist
    Dec 26, 2022 at 15:50

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