The past day or two, at least among our followers, there has been a lot of buzz on Twitter about the use of punctuation – inside or outside the quotation marks.
First of all, what are “quotation marks”?
quotation mark. noun. one of the marks used to indicate the beginning and end of a quotation, in English usually shown as “ at the beginning and ” at the end.
Or, for a quotation within a quotation, of single marks of this kind, as “He said, ‘I will go.‘”
Here’s some “scoop”:
QUOTATION MARKS – Quotation marks serve to indicate spoken dialog and to acknowledge specifically reproduced material.
a. Quotation marks are used to enclose direct quotations.
The supervisor said, “Come to my desk, young man.”
Note: Single quotation marks ( ‘ ‘ ) are used to enclose a quotation within a quotation.
The student asked, “Who popularized the statement ‘This is the best of all possible worlds’?”
b. Quotation marks should be used to enclose titles of short poems, stories, and articles that are usually printed as a part of a larger work.
She read “Ode on a Grecian Urn” from an anthology.
c. Quotation marks may be used to enclose a word used as a word (rather than for its meaning).
The word “school” brings back pleasant memories. And, do not overuse the word “and” in formal writing.
Now, let’s get to the more immediate question …
When other marks of punctuation are used with quotation marks, the following practices should be observed:
(1) A question mark or an exclamation point is placed inside the final quotation mark if it is part of the quotation, outside if it is part of the sentence that includes the quoted material.
(2) Commas and periods are always placed inside the closing quotation marks.
(3) Semicolons and colons are always placed outside the closing quotation marks.
Click here to download the complimentary pdf document of these rules.
Sources: dictionary.com; Webster’s New World Secretarial Handbook. New Rev. Ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1981.
To keep it fun, we must include the following:
Air quotes, also called fingerquotes or Ersatz quotes (pronounced /ˈɛrzæts/) refers to using one’s fingers to make virtual quotation marks in the air when speaking. This is typically done with both hands held shoulder-width apart and at the eye level of the speaker, with the index and middle fingers on each hand forming a V sign and then flexing at the beginning and end of the phrase being quoted. The air-quoted phrase is generally very short — a few words at most — in common usage, though sometimes much longer phrases may be used for comic effect.
While the term “air quotes” did not appear until 1989, use of similar gestures has been recorded as early as 1927. A single handed quote is an equivalent, though less dramatic variation. This became very popular since the 1990s.
Air quotes are often used to express satire, sarcasm, irony or euphemism. In print, scare quotes fill a similar purpose.
We also recommend visiting our friends over at The “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks.