Logical Punctuation: “Is there anything ‘logical’ about it?”

The rules are pretty simple. If you’ve got quotation marks in a sentence, along with a period or comma, the period or comma always goes inside the quotation marks, right? Not so fast, grammar guru. For “formal” writing in the U.S., this rule still applies, and grammar style guides from the Associated Press (AP) to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) will tell you if you don’t have the period or comma within the quotation marks, you are simply doing it wrong. Unless you are in the U.K. Or if you are writing computer code. Or, apparently, if you are writing “casually” for the Internet, which might include blogs, self-published e-books, social media, etc.

Enter “logical punctuation”: This is the freedom to place the period or comma outside the quotation marks if the situation warrants it. Rather than sticking to rigid rules about quotation mark punctuation, the writer or editor uses autonomous reasoning to decide where the punctuation goes. For instance, if the period or comma is not part of the thought or quote, some believe it should be on the outside of the closing quotation mark. And they place it there. Gasp!

What’s the big deal, you ask? It’s just a comma and a period and a couple of quotation marks. Au contraire, mi amigo. This is a heated debate, as witnessed by the Wikipedia discussion on the subject, which currently boasts 124,000 words on the subject and is getting bigger every day.

Check out this infographic on logical punctuation and then decide for yourself where you come down on the issue.

Sources:

"Logical Punctuation Isn't the Logical Choice", Daily Writing Tips, June 2011

"The Rise of 'Logical Punctuation'", Slate, May 2011

For a complete list of sources, please view the Infographic

Logical Punctuation: “Is there anything ‘logical’ about it?”
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