Re: Punctuation problem

Subject: Re: Punctuation problem
From: "Mark F. Heiman, Information Coordinator" <mheiman -at- CARLETON -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1993 14:33:30 +0000

To cloud the issue further, I believe that placement of end punctuation
varies according to which side of the Atlantic you hail from.
Traditionally, (this may no longer be true) British English consistently
placed final punctuation outside of quotes, while American English placed
it inside. This distinction has probably blurred in recent years.

The technical writer has a peculiar perspective on this problem. When we
use quotations, we're usually attempting to convey something in extact
terms -- this is the command the user should type, character by character.
End users being the literal creatures they are, punctuation which slips
inside a quote will be dutifully typed -- which is precisely what we should
expect and anticipate.

I try to avoid the situation whenever possible, but where a final quote is
inescapable, I generally flaunt tradition and leave the punctuation
stranded on the outside. If we have to stretch the rules in favor of
clarity, we shouldn't feel guilty.

Mark F. Heiman
Information Coordinator
Carleton College
Academic Computing
mheiman -at- carleton -dot- edu

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