Friday, December 15, 2017

Punctuation Inside or Outside of Quotation Marks?

small_4692181913It can often be difficult to determine where to place the punctuation following a quotation; and the Bluebook only provides one sentence of guidance on the subject in R5.1(b)(iv). The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation R. 5.1(b)(iv), at 77 (Columbia Law Review Ass’n et al. eds., 19th ed. 2010).  To understand this rule, it is necessary to turn to a style manual for more guidance. My style manual of choice is the Chicago Manual of Style [amazon link], and luckily, in this case, the major manuals seem to be in agreement with each other.

This is an area where U.S. English has moved away from the more flexible British standard in favor of a more rigid rule—in most cases.  See Mignon Fogarty, Quotation Marks with Periods and Commas, Grammar Girl (Aug. 25, 2011),

The following chart expands on the rule stated in the Bluebook and provides a few examples.

Punctuation MarkLocationExample
Period (.)InsideThe Commerce Clause gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.
Comma (,)InsideThe Commerce Clause gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations,” Native American tribes and between the states.
Semicolon (;)OutsideThe witness was asked to repeat his statement that "the boy from across the street broke his window"; instead, he stated that he could not recall.
Colon (:)OutsideThe Court "again resorted to intangible considerations": study ability, engagement, discussion, and viewpoint exchange.
Em Dash (—)OutsideThe Court established "a clear bright-line rule"law enforcement may detain the occupants of a residence while conducting a search.
Question Mark (?)
Exclamation Point (!)
Outside*Do you agree "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights"?
"What is this but declaring that the law in the States shall be the same for the black as for the white; . . . that no discrimination shall be made against [African-Americans] by law because of their color?"

Note: While periods and commas always go inside quotation marks and other punctuation marks, like colons, em dashes, and semicolons always go outside, question marks and exclamation points that are part of the original quoted material are included within the quotation marks. [R5.1(b)(iv); CMS 6.10]









photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc


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