Omissions In Direct Speech
When quoting direct speech, take great care to be accurate. Writers and publishers have been sued for inaccurate quotations attributed as direct speech.
If you use ellipses for omitted words, ensure that the omission wont mislead readers about the content or tone of the source youre quoting.
- I dont agree with the proposal because we need to do more research.
- I dont agree with the proposal
- I dont agree with the proposal.
- agree with the proposal.
If the quotation needs the information for context, add specific detail in square brackets. You must be sure that the specific detail is correct and that it retains the meaning intended by the original speaker.
If you paraphrase omitted material, place the paraphrasing in square brackets.
A More Detailed Explanation Of Punctuation Inside Or Outside Quotations
|Place . and , outside .
||Place . and , inside.
Obviously, dont place a comma inside if it introduces the quotation .
|! and ?||Place ! and ? inside or outside according to logic.
The second example is not a question, but it ends in a question mark. For neatness, it is acceptable to use just one end mark. Under US convention, you should only use one end mark. Under the UK convention, if you’re a real logic freak, you can use two end marks .
|: and||Place : and outside .
|?, ! and .||Don’t double up with end marks. But, if you must, you can.
||Don’t double up with end marks.
|More on ?, ! and .||Don’t end a quotation with . if it doesn’t end the whole sentence.
According To The Sense: Harts Rules 1904
In 1904, when Harts Rules was first offered for sale to the public, it went through four editions. The last of these, published in July 1904 , suggested one rule for commas and periods while following another:
Quotation Marks.Single quotes to be used for the first quotation then double for a quotation within a quotation. . . . All marks of punctuation used with words in inverted commas, or with words within parentheses, must be placed according to the sense.
Right, except for one crucial detail. Commas and periods in that edition of Harts Rules werent at all placed according to the sense, as a look through its text will show. In the following facsimile from the eighteenth edition, of a passage warning against the misuse of Latin plural forms, note the placement of the period relative to the closing quotation mark after Erratum :
Obviously, readers are not being advised to change Errata to Erratum.literallywith a period at the end of the word. On the contrary, Harts Rules was simply following the typographic convention of its day, while hinting elsewhere that there might be a problem with that same convention.
This discrepancy would not survive for long. In the very next edition, published in July 1905, the phrase according to the sense would appear in italics , and the text would be edited to follow its own advice :
But this time, Hart would make sure that his guide was printed according to his word.
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Punctuation And Grammar In Run
Place commas and periods within closing quotation marks, whether or not they were included in the original material:
Literatures world is a concrete human world of immediate experience. The poet uses images and objects and sensations much more than he uses abstract ideas the novelist is concerned with telling stories, not with working out arguments.
- Run-in quotation
“Literatures world is a concrete human world of immediate experience,” according to Northrop Frye. “The poet uses images and objects and sensations much more than he uses abstract ideas the novelist is concerned with telling stories, not with working out arguments.”
However, when a very high degree of accuracy is required , it may be desirable to place any punctuation not part of the original document outside the quotation marks:
- This part of section 2 reads as follows: “real and personal property of every description and deeds and instruments relating to or evidencing the title or right to property”.
Place a closing dash, question mark or exclamation mark inside the closing quotation marks if it applies to the quoted material and outside if it applies to the entire sentence:
- If I hear one more word about “political correctness” Stop telling me to “relax”! All she kept saying during the trip was “Are we there yet?”
- Isnt it time we stopped asking “How much does it cost?”
A closing semicolon or colon should normally be dropped and replaced with a period, a comma or ellipsis points.
Quotation Marksbefore Or After
I was teaching The Keys to Error-Free Writing in Vancouver, Washington, this week, and one of the hot topics was the placement of periods and commas with quotation marks. When we checked this site in class to see if I had written about the topic , we came up dry.
I have hesitated to cover the topic on this blog. Thats because U.S. writers follow a different style from much of the rest of the world when it comes to periods and commas with quotation marks. If you write in a country that follows different rules, please add a comment to enlighten us.
Here are the rules in the United States:
- Periods and commas always go inside the closing quotation marks. Examples:The poem is titled “Ode to the Semicolon.”He responded, “This is the way to punctuate with quotation marks.””I cannot remember that rule,” Linda announced. “Planning Your Life,” which is the first chapter, helps the reader set priorities.
- Semicolons and colons always go outside closing quotation marks. This situation doesnt come up often. But when it does, handle it like this: Examples:Mark will read “Punctuation Matters” Rio will cover the other sections. This is the last line of Frosts “The Road Not Taken“: “And that has made all the difference.”
To learn about question marks with closing quotation marks, read my post“? Or ?” Which Is Correct? If I put quotation marks around the title of the post, it will look like this:
“? or ? Which Is Correct?”
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Insertions Alterations And Parentheses
While every quotation must be scrupulously exact, you may wish to provide the reader with information to clarify items in the quotation. For example, you may feel it advisable to indicate to whom the possessive adjective refers in the following:
- The official insisted: “We foresee no change in their environmental policy in the near future.”
The clarification is made by means of square brackets:
- The official insisted: “We foresee no change in environmental policy in the near future.”
If you need to indicate an error in the original, such as a misspelling, insert the Latin word sic, italicized and enclosed in brackets, immediately after the word concerned. The addition of assures the reader of the accuracy of the quotation.
When used in this way, should not be followed by a period or an exclamation mark. Avoid implicit comments on peculiarities of form or content by means of an exclamation mark or question mark enclosed in parentheses.
If you wish to draw attention to specific parts of a quotation, underline or italicize them. The reader must be informed in a footnote, or in parentheses or brackets immediately following the quotation, by means of a phrase such as Italics mine, Underlining mine or My emphasis, that the emphasis was not in the original.
Commas And Periods Within Quotation Marks
British English puts commas and periods outside the quotation marks unless the quotation is also a complete sentence or the punctuation is part of the quotation.
- The UWSC says that British people write it “this way”.
American English puts commas and periods inside the quotation marks.
- The UWSC says that American people write it “this way.”
When it comes to other punctuation, both versions write it similarly. Colons and semicolons go outside quotation marks, and exclamation points and question marks depend on whether they’re part of the quote or the sentence as a whole.
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What About Quotation Marks Other Than Those Indicating Dialogue
In all cases of usage involving quotation marks , commas and periods always go inside the quotation marks while semicolons and colons always go outside.
Here is an example using a list of titles:
This months issue of Grammar Guru magazine contains articles titled Making Every Comma Count,Punctuate or Perish, and The Write Way.
Notice that the commas separating the titles are inside the quotation marks.
We should also place periods and commas inside quotation marks used in other situations, such as to suggest that a word is being used in a special or ironic sense, to show that we are referring to a word as a word, or to mark the definition of a word or words:
- A three-hundred-pound gorilla eats quite a few snacks, so the zoo keeper must closely monitor the animals daily intake.
- A lottery ticket holder who breaks even is counted as a winner thus, statistics about ones odds of winning are misleading.
- Sam sprinkles his conversations with the word amen, although he really pays very little attention to what other people are saying.
- The Latin verb duco means to lead,to consider, or to prolong.
Note that in the last example, we could have set the word duco in italic type rather than enclosing it in quotation marks, but we want to be consistent throughout a document.
Also note that italics or underliningnot quotation marksshould be used to emphasize a word or phrase. We all know someone who overuses quotation marks .
Introducing The Quoted Material: When To Use A Comma Colon Period Or No Punctuation At All
The comma is the mark most frequently used to introduce quoted material.
The flight attendant asked, âMay I see your boarding pass?â
Buddha says, âEven death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.â
A colon should be used when the text introducing the quoted material could stand as a sentence on its own. It is also the mark most commonly used to introduce a block quotation.
In Food Rules, Michael Pollan summarizes his extensive writing about food with seven words of advice: âEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.â
A period can be used to introduce a block quotation when the introductory text stands on its own as a complete sentence. In such cases, a colon is also properâand sometimes preferable.
When the quoted material flows directly from your introductory text, no punctuation should be used before the quotation. A very short quotation may also be introduced without punctuation. The unpunctuated lead-in is most commonly used with run-in quotations, but it is also appropriate for introducing block quotations that flow directly from the introductory text.
In her closing statement, the prosecutor spoke forcefully of the defendantâs âcallous disregard for human life.â
Though marshaling little evidence, the authors claim that âover half of British prisoners come from single-parent households.â
We tried to persuade him, but he said âNo way.â
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Words Used In A Special Way
When a word or words are used in a different way than the dictionary definition or the common usage, they are considered words used in a special way. These are words you could use the term so-called in front of. Here are two sets of examples.
His so-called retirement consisted of volunteering for two different charities and the homeowners association.
His retirement consisted of volunteering for two different charities and the homeowners association.
Her so-called ordinary morning routine consisted of jogging two miles, feeding the dogs, putting in a load of laundry, and checking e-mail.
Her ordinary morning routine consisted of jogging two miles, feeding the dogs, putting in a load of laundry, and checking e-mail.
Note that the term so-called and quotation marks are not used together. Use one or the other.
Quotation Marks With Commas And Periods
One of the most common question people ask me is whether periods and commas go inside or outside a closing quotation mark, and theres a reason everyone is confused. The rules in American English are different from the rules in British English, so if youre regularly reading American and British publications, such as the BBC and CNN websites, youll regularly see it done different ways.
In America, we use a hard-and-fast rule that was supposedly designed by compositors to protect the tiny commas and periods . We always put periods and commas inside quotation marks.
In Britain, they use rules that require the writer to determine whether the period or comma belong with the quotation or are part of the larger sentence. It appears that early champions of this logical system were H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler who wrote the classic 1906 British usage guide The Kings English . In it, the brothers describe the British logical system of punctuation. They note that they are in conflict with compositors, people who set type, but the Fowlers believe their system is better.
In short, my U.S.-centric memory trick is to remember that inside the U.S., periods and commas go inside quotation marks.
Squiggly said, I hate packing for a vacation.I hate packing for a vacation, said the yellow snail.
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The Placement Of A Comma Or Period After A Quotation
When a comma or period is needed after a quotation, publishers in the United States typically put the punctuation mark before the closing quotation mark. The reason for this convention is to improve the appearance of the text. The convention goes back at least to the nineteenth century. John Wilsons A Treatise on English Punctuation says that it provides for neatness . A comma or period that follows a closing double quotation mark hangs off by itself and creates a gap in the line of text .
British publishers tend to put the comma or period after the quotation mark. But the British usually use the narrower, single quotation mark as the primary quotation mark. There is less of an aesthetic penalty to placing a comma or period after a single quotation mark, since the mark of punctuation isnt stranded as far from the previous word.
Its true that the convention followed in the United States treats the comma or period as if it were part of the quoted material. But the practice is not likely to give a false meaning to the words cited . Indeed, this sleight of hand involving punctuation is minor compared with the violence of quotation itself: quoting almost always entails wrenching the original authors words out of their context, an action that inevitably affects their meaning.
Wilson, John. A Treatise on English Punctuation. 2nd ed., Boston, 1850. HathiTrust Digital Library, 13 May 2012, hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.hx521x.