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Write the Right Word: Punctuation in Quotations

Don’t get confused when using punctuation in quotations. Here’s an easy rule to remember: Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.

For example: “This year’s wheat harvest was above expectations,” Carrington producer John Smith said. “The growing conditions were exceptionally good.”

However, placement of other punctuation, such as colons and question marks, depends on the context. They go outside the quotation marks unless they are part of the quote.

Here are some examples:

  • “How long is the movie?” he asked.
  • Who wrote “War and Peace”?
  • “This year, I’m going to plant three crops: wheat, corn and soybeans,” the producer said.
  • To reduce your risk of developing a foodborne illness, the Partnership for Food Safety Education has four “easy-to-follow practices”: clean, separate, cook and chill.

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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