Re: Punctuation in quotes -- American style

Subject: Re: Punctuation in quotes -- American style
From: Richard Hamilton <dick -at- rlhamilton -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L Writers <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2013 13:09:30 -0700

Good points on typeface from Lynne and David.

However, while that may be a good way to go (and I'm leaning towards that solution), it doesn't address what to do if there are quotes in the literal text, as in my second example.

I'm inclined to keep the punctuation outside when the quotes are part of the literal and inside (or use a different typeface) otherwise.

While I agree with David's suggestion of leaving off punctuation in pure instructions, that doesn't always work for me. I do leave punctuation off when I have a stand-alone example, but I also have normal sentences where this comes up and also situations where the quoted text is in the middle of a sentence and a comma is the punctuation in question.

BTW, regarding Gene's note on style guides, this book is being published by my company, so beyond bowing in the general direction of the Chicago Manual of Style, as corporate overlord I do whatever I want:-).

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions.

Richard
-------
XML Press
XML for Technical Communicators
http://xmlpress.net
hamilton -at- xmlpress -dot- net



On Aug 19, 2013, at 12:43 PM, David Farbey wrote:

> Have you considered using a different typeface for code samples or for the words the user needs to type in? If you did that you would not need to use quotation marks at all:
>
> Set the value of the mode attribute to titleBelow
>
> (If you can't see the formatting in your mail client, I set the value titleBelow in Courier)
>
> I would even go so far as to say that you can leave the punctuation off the end of that sentence entirely. You're not writing a novel, or an editorial for the Times, you're writing instructions to help your customers get their work done.
>
> David
> iconoclasts'r'us
>
>
> David Farbey - david -at- farbey -dot- co -dot- uk
> Mobile 07538 420 800
> http://about.me/davidfarbey
>
>
>
> On 19 August 2013 19:08, Lynne Wright <Lynne -dot- Wright -at- tiburoninc -dot- com> wrote:
> This is one of these issues that can inspire vigorous debate on finding the middle ground between honoring punctuation rules versus aiming for ultimate clarity. But in reality, its not going to make much different to the end user.
>
> If you follow the punctuation rule, I don't think users will be confused about what to do, since, if I understand this correctly, they are selecting options from a list, rather than entering values by typing. In other words, readers will ignore the period.
>
> Putting the period after the 2nd quotation mark keeps the name of the value distinct and accurate; and I doubt readers will give a toss... or even notice... that strictly speaking, the period is out of place.
>
> So its really your call. Personally, I'd put the period outside the marks.
>
> To avoid this type of issue, I format references to UI components that you perform actions on, or that you select, in bold, instead of using quotation marks.
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=tiburoninc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=tiburoninc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Richard Hamilton
> Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 1:51 PM
> To: TECHWR-L Writers
> Subject: Punctuation in quotes -- American style
>
> American-style punctuation calls for periods and commas to appear inside quotation marks.
>
> No question on the general rule.
>
> The question is, are there circumstances where you would break that rule?
>
> For example, consider the following sentences:
>
> Set the value of the mode attribute to "titleBelow."
>
> Do not use the mode attribute when type="note."
>
> I'm still inclined to bring the punctuation inside the quote, thought that second one gives me pause, but I'm open to other interpretations and your thoughts on when this rule can/should be broken.
>
> Best Regards,
> Richard Hamilton
> -------
> XML Press
> XML for Technical Communicators
> http://xmlpress.net
> hamilton -at- xmlpress -dot- net
>
>
>
>
> -------
> XML Press
> XML for Technical Communicators
> http://xmlpress.net
> hamilton -at- xmlpress -dot- net
>
>
>
>
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Punctuation in quotes -- American style: From: Richard Hamilton
RE: Punctuation in quotes -- American style: From: Lynne Wright
Re: Punctuation in quotes -- American style: From: David Farbey

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