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Tip 22: Correct Punctuation for Quotations

How do I punctuate direct quotations correctly?
Does the end punctuation go INSIDE the quotation marks, or does it go OUTSIDE the quotation marks?
Commas and periods always go inside the closing quotation marks.
  • The operator said, “We do not have a procedure for making sandwiches.”
  • “We do not,” said the operator, “have a procedure for making sandwiches.”
  •  The operator said, “We do not have a procedure for making sandwiches,” but I think he was kidding.
Semicolons always go OUTSIDE the closing quotation marks.
  •  The operator said, “We do not have a procedure for making sandwiches”; I think he was kidding.
  •  The operator said, “We do not have a procedure for making sandwiches.” I think he was kidding.

All other punctuation follows the logic of the context: If the punctuation is part of the material that is being quoted, it goes inside the quotation marks.

If the punctuation is not part of the material being quoted, it goes outside the quotations marks.
  • Did the operator say, “We do not have a procedure for making sandwiches”? (The quoted part is not a question, so the question mark goes outside of the quotation marks.)
  • Did the auditor ask, “Do you have a procedure for making sandwiches?” (The quote is a question, and the sentence itself is a question; the question marks goes inside.)