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Write the Right Word: Punctuation in Quotes

Where does the punctuation mark go in quoted material?

The short answer is: It depends.

  • Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” “This research has the potential to save millions of dollars,” he said.
  • Question marks go inside or outside of the quotation marks, depending on the sentence. The question mark goes inside the quotation marks when only the material within the quotation marks is the question. For example: He asked, “How long will the meeting last?” The question mark goes outside of quotation marks when the entire sentence is the question. For example: Who wrote “Gone With the Wind”?
  • Colons go outside the quotation marks. For example: This is what he called “lunch”: chips, salsa and pop.

Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391

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