As a programmer, it always bothered me when the period was inside the quotation marks, like so:

His nickname was "Quincy."

I'd much prefer to do it this way:

His nickname was "Quincy".

This way, the quotation ends before the sentence does, meaning that the symbols are all in correct order, especially when compared to the "code" version of it:

his.nickname = "Quincy";

However, it doesn't bother me when the period is inside the quotation marks when the quote actually contains a period:

The note said, "The sky is blue."

If I want to publish a fiction book, is it acceptable to put the period outside the quotation marks if the quote normally wouldn't contain a period?

  • 1
    Depends where you live. In the UK punctuation outside of quotes is considered correct. In the US, it is considered correct to put it inside the quotes, and a US editor will probably ask you to "fix" it if you put it outside. Though I believe there are certain punctuation marks that both US and UK styles would agree should be placed outside of the quotes.
    – MarielS
    Oct 24, 2020 at 2:20
  • In your first two examples, the quotations are not necessary, and probably shouldn't be used. In any event for American usage, see rule 4 here: grammarbook.com/punctuation/quotes.asp .
    – EvilSnack
    Oct 24, 2020 at 2:20

1 Answer 1


Periods and other punctuation marks being placed inside of quotation marks is a typographical convention. "Full stop." If you do it differently, it will stand out, and not in a good way.

If you want your writing to be published, follow the conventions and style rules of the publisher, institution or organization.

This is not about programming syntax, or "logical" rules. You are not writing code. You are not writing in languages other than English -- which have their own conventions for punctuation marks (including different quotation marks).

In a direct quotation, there are some rare cases where punctuation would go outside the quotes. One example is asking a question about a direct quote that is not a question:

Did Abraham Lincoln say, "Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it."?

"Official English department 'rules'" is not a thing, by the way. There are official anthropology department rules, official biology department rules, official Associated Press rules, official Chicago Manual of Style rules, official American Medical Association rules, official Modern Language Association rules, and on and on. Point being, there are STYLE GUIDES for this stuff, and just as a programmer needs to know C# syntax, or Python syntax, you need to know that there are publication styles guides that spell out the "syntax rules" -- and you should know about and consult at least one of them.

  • now that I see this answer, which is what I expected to be the right answer, I realize that what I actually wanted to know was "how can I get away with it?" Oct 28, 2020 at 8:59

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