Quotation marks are surprisingly abused, even by college-educated people who have a great deal of experience writing academically. Grammar is something hammered into our heads in high school, but we often forget the rules if we’ve fallen out of practice. Combine that with the ever-increasing use of the internet and social media where the rules are considerably more relaxed, and you have a perfect opportunity to abuse punctuation. As the lead editor here at Content Equals Money, I know that even professional content writers struggle occasionally with these rules.
There are many exceptions and caveats in grammar rules, but for most of the purposes of content writers, we’re allowed a rare ALWAYS rule: periods at the end of a sentence go INSIDE quotation marks, not outside. The only time you put a period outside is if a parenthetical citation follows the quote, and this is mostly used in an academic or legal setting and rarely in online content. Even if you just use quotation marks to set off one word at the end of a sentence, put the period inside. Try to remember: don’t leave the period hanging out there all alone!
A question mark or exclamation point can be somewhat trickier. If the question or exclamation only pertains to what is inside the quote itself, treat is as a period. For example:
Susie asked, “Where does this quotation mark go?”
Here, the question is clearly part of the quote. However, for something like:
Does Susie always say, “I don’t know where quotation marks go”?
Here, the question pertains to the entire sentence.
If you have a quote followed by a colon or semicolon, put the punctuation after the quote. This is because the colon or semicolon signifies that the first thought is ending and we’re being introduced to a new idea or a list. The quote is not part of that new idea, so it should be closed first before moving on.
This introduction to quotation marks is limited, but should serve as a quick reminder when you have some doubts. There are great resources on the internet with more examples and explanations, just make sure that the source you’re referencing is reputable! All content writers know the power of content and the expense of mistakes. Better safe than sorry, you never want to lose a sale over a quotation mark!
This post was written by our lead editor, Kayla. If you are ready for any of our writers to do your site content, you can be confident that Kayla will catch all the little mistakes! To order content, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest posts by Amie (see all)
- The Right Mix of Quality and Quantity in Content Marketing - April 27, 2016
- 4 Reasons to Outsource Your Content - April 13, 2016
- Improving the Content Your Audience Wants - March 30, 2016