Quotes questions ." or .". ?

ilovecolors's picture

Whenever I write a quote at the end of a sentence and the quote has an end period I wonder, is it

"quote text." ?

or

"quote text.". ?

or maybe

"quote text". ?

I think the obvious way would be the second one, but then again, it looks really funny, like one of those horizontal emoticons =^.^=
What are your thoughts on this?

joeclark's picture

This comes up quite often as a newbie question, and the answer can be found in a style guide for whatever country you live in. U.S. and Canadian style is to place periods and commas inside quotation marks always (double first, single for quotes inside quotes). There are highly unusual exceptions, as in computer code and linguistics, that will surely never affect you.

The dominant but not sole U.K. style is to place periods and commas inside quotes only if the quote is an actual human utterance. (So no androids!) Otherwise outside. Single-double, not double-single, is the dominant usage.

Other countries can barely get their acts together in the first place, and I don’t know what system they use.

Nonetheless, you cannot just pick and choose an orthography based on what you, out of ignorance, think looks nice.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

eliason's picture

I don't think two periods are used anywhere.

paragraph's picture

It can also denote a sentence end: ‘This is a complete quoted sentence.’
Or, the following quote is ‘a part of this sentence’.

ilovecolors's picture

I will skip the discourteous comments from Joe Clark.

My question arise since I found this old post regarding Erik Spiekermann typo tips (hidden under a lot of rss)
http://fontfeed.com/archives/erik-spiekermanns-typo-tips/

He explains that the quotes style he use is an European style, it is found on the first comment after the article.

It is. But I take issue with the American style: I always put
the period or comma where the context needs it. If the quote
has a point after it, like a complete sentence, it’s included
in the quote:

Groucho Marx said, “I wouldn’t join a club that accepted me as a member.”

(Now, there should logically be a second full point to finish
the sentence around the quote, but in German, we neglect that.) But:

He always got gas at the “76”.

Putting them inside the closing quote is an aesthetic decision,
not a grammatical one, but it is American usage.

Best regards,

Elliot

I Love Colors

charles ellertson's picture

If this is a professional question, the answer is it is an editorial choice, not a typesetter's choice. "Logic" and "custom" are not notions that live happily together. Remember Dr. Spock (the one with pointy ears).

If you're simply expressing a personal viewpoint, yes, do as you choose.

Si_Daniels's picture

>I will skip the discourteous comments from Joe Clark.

>My question arise since I found this old post regarding Erik Spiekermann

So you "skip over" the discourteous Joe Clark to quote from the impeccably well behaved Professor Spiekermann.

Are you holding Canadians to a different standard than Germans?

John Hudson's picture

I always put the period or comma where the context needs it. If the quote has a point after it, like a complete sentence, it’s included in the quote...

Very sensible. That is the thinking behind the UK convention, and it makes a lot of sense.

It is also helpful to think about it this way: if an entire sentence is a quotation, then all the punctuation of that sentence, including the terminal fullstop, is part of that quotation and hence the fullstop belongs within the quote marks. If a quotation is only part of a sentence, then the terminal full stop belongs to the sentence as a whole and not to the quote, and hence the fullstop belongs outside the quote marks.

Most Canadian practice seems to follow the US model, which I consider arbitrary and without grammatical logic. But I'm enough of a colonialist to maintain that any UK practice is legitimate in this dominion.

blank's picture

I find that whatever I get settled on some editor makes me change.

hrant's picture

> you cannot just pick and choose an orthography

Sure you can.
Non-peons do what they think is right, not what they're told to do.
This is how the world is saved from the idiocy of the horde.

> some editor makes me change.

Which is why one must always plant intentional
mistakes, so the editor/proofreader feels good.

hhp

ilovecolors's picture

There's an interesting and extensive article here:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_quote.html

examining every aspect of quotes not only punctuation.
The article recommends adding the period and commas within the quotes, and colons, semicolons, dashes, question marks and exclamation points outside only when they apply to the whole sentence.

I Love Colors

John Hudson's picture

A distinction should be made -- but seldom is -- between utterances and other kinds of text indicated by quote marks, such as cited content, i.e. a distinction between

Jim said, ‘Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.’

and

On page 36, the author has Jim say ‘pass the ammunition’.

The reason for this is that although only part of the first sentence is enclosed in quotes, indicating the spoken words, the utterance is the whole meaning of the sentence, whereas in the second sentence the cited words are subordinate.

ilovecolors's picture

I agree John. I can see that you're a very good colonialist since you single quotes, LOL. UK almost always uses single quotes and USA uses double quotes.
Thanks, it has been enlightening.

I Love Colors

joeclark's picture

I Love Colors – note the absence of U – can carry on in ignorance if he wants, but any work he typesets will look as ignorant as he is if he doesn’t follow the rules of the country in which the type is set. And that’s what they are: Rules. You don’t get to pick and choose.

And you don’t know from discourteous, kiddo.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

John Hudson's picture

Joe, there are countries whose governments take a fairly direct interest in things like spelling, about which it might be accurate to say that they have prescriptive national 'rules' about such things. It is notable, though, that even within such countries individual publishers, some of them significant and influential, ignore those rules. Recent German spelling reforms are not universally implemented. Some Greek publishers continue to use polytonic despite the monotonic system having been the official rule since 1982.

There are not, in fact, national rules. There are widely observed conventions and there are also variations. There are indeed rules for e.g. government publications, but in that respect the government is just one more publisher, and other publishers may employ variant rules in their own house styles.

I long ago determined that the prevailing British conventions for punctuation made more grammatical sense and looked better on the page. So that is what I use. This isn't 'ignorance': I know what other conventions are common in Canada. I disagree with them, and I'm not generally in favour of doing what other people do just because they are doing it.

nina's picture

I agree with John. When typesetting German, whenever I'm given the liberty by the editor, I employ pre-spelling reform rules rather than the current "correct" ones – they simply make more sense grammatically, and in terms of what people are still used to reading. – Different example: in German it is a rule not to set ligatures across word breaks in compounds; but I still do that with certain fonts, depending on the actual design of the ligature, and it works just fine.
I believe that knowing the rules and abandoning them in some occasions and for good reasons does not constitute the same crime as ignoring them and just doing whatever. Slavishly adhering to rules without questioning their sense and benefit is much worse IMHO.

Nick Shinn's picture

@John: ...the prevailing British conventions for punctuation made more grammatical sense and looked better on the page.

However, the use of single quotes is not compatible with "smart" layout software that replaces "hash marks" with "curly quotes". If you had followed the North American convention, you would not have made this mistake:

This isn’t ’ignorance’

kentlew's picture

Actually, I believe single quotes are "compatible," as you put it, with most "smart quotes" layout software, such as used in InDesign, Quark, or even Word. Smarty Pants, used here on Typophile, is one of the exceptions in converting an opening quotesingle into an apostrophe (quoteright). This works great for abbreviating years, such as '09, but not so wonderful for quoting with single marks, as in your example.

hrant's picture

Of course guillemets work better than either single or double "high quotes", which can be confused with the apostrophe, and generally wreck spacing. I encourage the use of guillemets even in English.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Nick, Kent is right. Most smart layout that performs character substitutions for ‘curly quotes’ gets it right. It is only in Typophile that I find I have to remember to do this manually.

In any case, I'm certainly not going to alter my punctuation practices on account of bad software.

Nick Shinn's picture

"...single quotes are “compatible,” as you put it, with most “smart quotes” layout software ... or even Word. Smarty Pants, used here on Typophile, is one of the exceptions"

What I meant was that although the single quote style works OK for quote marks , it's incompatibility is that it screws up abbreviation marks. But if this problem is solved, as Smarty Pants has, then the single-quote style of quote marks doesn't work.

As the Smarty Pants system is the only way of converting hash marks to curly quotes (short of adding a dictionary) and not rotating the apostrophes used in abbreviations, and it works with the North American quote style, rather than the UK, it is arguable whether the merits of the UK quote style are sufficient to warrant the extinction of the "single-quote-right" shape of apostrophe, which will probably occur as a result of "curly quote" layout software.

cuttlefish's picture

I encourage the use of guillemets even in English.

But then how do the rules apply for guillemets in English? When are the singles and doubles used, which direction should they point on opening and closing, and how are they positioned relative to punctuation? Except for the benefit of not being confused with apostrophes and other similar marks, guillemets present the same challenges as the more familiar (to most English writers) quotation marks. Are not the languages that use guillemets inconsistent with their application from one to another as well?

Nick Shinn's picture

Damn it, why can't people everywhere be more the same?! :-)

nina's picture

"Are not the languages that use guillemets inconsistent with their application from one to another as well?"
Yup. French has them pointing outwards and adds spaces on the inside, German has them pointing inwards with no spaces and Switzerland has a mixture of the two (pointing outwards with no spaces).
I guess the good news about this is that all those variants work, and are recognized as what they are. When Swiss people read German text, I don't think they believe the inwards-pointing guillemets are "wrong".

hrant's picture

Jason, I think people will take a few seconds and then know exactly what they're looking at when they see guillemets for the first time in English*, and after that they'll go with the flow. I would point them outward, but not use single guillemets; for nested quoting I would fall back on double high quotes (which is what French does I believe). This is in fact also an improvement: resorting to nested high quotes (either double-then-single or vice versa) is even more confusing. For the two important drawbacks that high quotes suffer from, guillemets are superior; and I don't see any drawbacks (after the initial surprise).

* Oh, and then there's this genial hybrid, shown in my
1st post of May 21 here: http://typophile.com/node/20061

As for confusion across languages, I think context takes care of that 95%.

Also:
http://typophile.com/node/33045

hhp

ilovecolors's picture

The guillemets are common in spanish writing (from Spain) and they are also used for quoting. The guillemets are not that popular in Latin America. The other quotes are used inside guillemets according to the nesting level required.

joeclark's picture

John, we weren’t talking about German, nor were we talking about publishers’ house styles. As a British English native speaker, you have the right to continue using British quotation marks. Canadian English speakers don’t, and I know the full list of publishers that maintain half-assed house styles that use British quotation marks in Canada. Trust me; they are safely ignored, as are all exceptions to the rules.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

joeclark's picture

Hrant and Cuttlefish, guillemets are not English-language punctuation marks and you’re not going to be able to change that. You can look like a ponce, but competent is what you won’t look like.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

John Hudson's picture

Joe, where are these rules written down, and under what authority? Where does a newcomer to Canadian punctuation conventions go if he wants to learn the correct way to do things?

In what sense are publishers who use alternative conventions, such as British conventions, ‘safely ignored’? They presumably publish books, and presumably people buy and read these books. And since they're Canadian publishers, odds are that at least some of them receive government grants, despite their punctuation. They might not have any influence over how other Canadians use punctuation, but I'm not saying that they should have any influence. I do think, however, that variance in punctuation use, so long as the meaning of the text is unambiguous -- which is not the case, by the way, when punctuation is always placed within the quote marks regardless of whether it was part of the quote utterance -- is an acceptable cultural phenomenon, especially in a country that prides itself on its diversity.

cuttlefish's picture

I did not advocate the use of guillemets in English. I was merely asking, if one were to use them in English, by who's standard do you imitate when you do use them?

I do support putting closing punctuation within the quotation marks when the quotation contains a complete sentence, and the sentence including the quotation comes to an end there, then otherwise punctuating outside them.

hrant's picture

Joe: Mankind owes its progress to ignoring officious twits.

hhp

joeclark's picture

John, usage determines rules. Mail me and I'll send you a freebie copy of my book on Canadian English spelling. Unlike our excitable Armenian-American friend, I actually did my research.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

hrant's picture

> I actually did my research.

But somehow not enough to see what's right in front of your nose.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Joe: ...usage determines rules.

Fair enough. Where we disagree, I think, is that contravening these rules automatically signals either ignorance or incompetence. I think there are solid grammatical reasons why British punctuation is superior to Canadian and American punctuation: it provides more accurate information about the structure of the text by indicating visually whether punctuation is part of the quote or part of an external sentence in which the quote is embedded.

I'd love to have a copy of your book. Thanks! I'll send you my mailing address.

joeclark's picture

If “what’s in front of [my] nose” means “Hrant’s in my face again,” let me just say I wish you’d stayed offline longer. We were so much happier without you.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

joeclark's picture

John, I think we both know you can dress it up in logic all you want, but you’re just arguing for the superiority of the system you grew up with and that matches your spoken accent.

It’s easy to find counterexamples to the claimed superiority of British house style, since English words can begin or end with an apostrophe, which is one of the two punctuation marks used for first-level quotations in British.

The option of using British rules for periods and commas but double quotes in first instance is marginally less ridiculous.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

hrant's picture

In the realm of type design (so not really part of grammar) I've advocated pointing all of opening/closing single/double quotes up, and leaving the apostrophe pointing down. I've only done it once myself however.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Joe, the Christmas Rappin’ example is great. Yes, the ’’, sequence looks silly, but it is also decipherable. In the US/Canadian setting, I'm left thinking that both the comma and the apostrophe might be part of the song title. I'd rather have something look odd but be decipherable to a clear an unambiguous meaning than have it look misleadingly sensible but actually failing to provide unambiguous meaning.

“And, of course, you can get the same ‘Christmas Rappin’’ situation in US/Canadian usage if the reference occurs within a quote.”

hrant's picture

> so not really part of grammar

Actually I should know better than to offer such a qualification, because
It's Not So Simple™. There is no purity - no way to decide all the time for
everybody if a mark on the paper is one symbol or the other; in some cases
the ambiguity is great enough that some threshold is crossed. Specifically I
offer that favorite "hybrid" of mine from that other thread - something I've
called "quotemets":

So are those quotes, or guillemets? They look like quotes (although
they're mirrored, not 6/9) except they're not high enough... They
look like guillemets, except for those knobs... Typographically they
can't be "incorrect", but can they even be grammatically "incorrect"
if you can't convince enough people they're not really quotes (if it
was English text) or guillemets (for that French text)?

Very often, even if you have adopted strict rules and want very
much to follow them, you can't, because it escapes your realm.

hhp

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