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When should end punctuation go inside quotes?

From a AMS blog post:

Some organizations have temporarily suspended their polling, and with the news media tabbing Sandy as the new “it girl,” the presidential candidates were sent to the fourth estate’s back burner, at least for a few days, as notedby media reporter Howard Kurtz

Why is the comma inside the quotation marks in “it girl,”? This occurs not only in this example, but is a general rule, not even limited to English. But I find it strange: the comma clearly not part of the name; nor is it part of the quotation in e.g. “wait a second,” said my friend as opposed to “wait a second”, said my friend.

What is the grammatical word for the comma being placed inside the quotation marks, and why is it like this?

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    A rule universally loathed in the IT industry. Note the difference between type "ls", then press enter and type "ls," then press enter.
    – SF.
    Nov 5 '12 at 8:51
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    It's standard practice in American English to include the punctuation within the quotation marks regardless of whether it's logical or illogical, part of the quoted material or not, but not in British English. I flout the rule in all the papers I edit. Nobody seems to mind. I have my own system, which is quite close to the BrE system. Who knows why American style manuals insist on this stupidity? Why do Brits and Americans insist on miles and inches and pounds and gallons when the rest of the world operates on the metric system? The answer is probably somewhere in there.
    – user21497
    Nov 5 '12 at 9:12
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    1. The name for this is "American style", as visiting Wikipedia or searching this site will tell you. 2. This has nothing to do with grammar (and what is a "grammatical word" anyway?). 3. The reasons are purely aesthetic; some people thought a comma following a quotation mark looks stranded. So they either swapped the order or actually just put the comma directly underneath the quotation mark — something that is cumbersome to recreate with a typewriter, and all but impossible with a run-of-the-mill computer program.
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 5 '12 at 9:56

The question would be better off in the context of AmE. But in any case, in American Style it's a hard-and-fast rule to place commas and periods inside the quotation marks. In BrE, it depends on where the comma and period belong. If they belong to the quoted text, they are placed inside, otherwise they are placed outside.

To answer your question of "why," I think the rule was designed and posed by compositors in the early days and has been this way since then.

That said, the rule applies only to commas and periods not other punctuation marks like, question mark, etc.

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    It is indeed an American compositor style. The comma and period, being teeny tiny dots and the quotation marks, being also teeny tiny dots of a slightly heavier weight (because two of them are adjacent) create a white spot. To avoid the one dot "floating" by itself, it is always placed within the quotation marks. When the punctuation mark is "blacker" than the period or comma, American style follows meaning, just as British style. It's a question of making the page look nicer, that's all. Fine typographers on both sides of the pond prefer the quote to ride above the comma or period. Apr 14 '13 at 1:49

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