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>I have often seen periods used outside of quotation marks as in
>The girl said "Arrrgh".
>This has appeared so often that I am now questioning my own
>puntuation rules which, as I recall, say that periods must be
placed within the
>quotation marks at the end of a sentence as in this example:
>The girl said "Arrgh."
The period within the quote marks is the standard U.S. convention
that has been taught here for a long time. It's part of the
arbitrary rule that says periods and commas go inside the quotes
and all other ending punctuation goes outside. It's worked well
until the last few years, when Web URLs and some scientific
symbols that contain periods as an integral element have come
along, sometimes making it confusing whether the period belongs
with the quoted material or is just the sentence-ending period.
The period outside the quotes is standard British convention.
Its basis is that the only punctuation that goes inside the
quotes is punctuation that is part of the quoted material; if
it's just the end-of-the-sentence period, it doesn't belong in
there. I spend all of my time editing to the U.S. convention,
because I work here, but my heart belongs with the Brits on this
I edited a professional society newsletter some years ago and
used the British convention; that produced more letters, both for
and against, than anything I did or published as editor.
David E. Nadziejka
W.E. Upjohn Institute
nadziejka -at- we -dot- upjohninst -dot- org