PUNCTUATION AND QUOTATION MARKS

Quotation Marks with Periods and Commas

Periods and commas almost always go inside quotation marks. This is because these punctuation marks do not actively change the meaning of what comes inside the quotation.

When I first read Pushkin's short story "The Queen of Spades", I couldn't help laugh at the greed of the central character. INCORRECT

When I first read Pushkin's short story "The Queen of Spades," I couldn't help laugh at the greed of the central character. CORRECT

One of Pushkin's most successful works is his thrilling short story "The Queen of Spades". INCORRECT

One of Pushkin's most successful works is his thrilling short story "The Queen of Spades." CORRECT

"Give me another", Margaret said. INCORRECT

"Give me another," Margaret said. CORRECT


Quotation Marks with Question Marks, Exclamation Marks, and More

Exceptions arise when the punctuation marks such as question marks and exclamation marks alter the meaning of the content within the quotation marks. In these instances, if the punctuation mark is not already a part of the quoted material, it belongs on the outside of the quotation marks.

Are we to believe Hermann in Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades?" INCORRECT

Are we to believe Hermann in Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades"? CORRECT

I love Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades!" INCORRECT

I love Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades"! CORRECT

One of Pushkin's most successful works is his thrilling short story "The Queen of Spades;" the story follows the adventures of a greedy young man as he tries to get the better of a wily rich card shark. INCORRECT

One of Pushkin's most successful works is his thrilling short story "The Queen of Spades"; the story follows the adventures of a greedy young man as he tries to get the better of a wily rich card shark. CORRECT

Can you believe it? Margaret had the nerve to request quietly, "Give me another!" INCORRECT

Can you believe it? Margaret had the nerve to request quietly, "Give me another"! CORRECT


Quotation Marks with Parenthetical Citations

An exception also arises when one used MLA Style parenthetical citations. MLA requires specifically that you place punctuation marks after the pcit and not before.

The monster promises Victor, his creator, that if Victor will create a companion creature, 'neither you nor any other human being shall ever see us again." (Shelley 129). INCORRECT. The period has been doubled.

The monster promises Victor, his creator, that if Victor will create a companion creature, "neither you nor any other human being shall ever see us again." (Shelley 129) INCORRECT. The period has not been moved.

The monster promises Victor, his creator, that if Victor will create a companion creature, "neither you nor any other human being shall ever see us again" (Shelley 129). CORRECT. The period has been moved to its proper place behind the pcit.

 

Gary Enns, Professor of English, Cerro Coso Community College