Where do you put the comma or period in relation to the quotation marks? Do you put the period inside or outside the closing quotation marks?
Good questions! I'm about to make this all a little easier for you if you're a academic writer, university student, or nonfiction writer in Canada or the United States (US) and if you're using APA style.
American Psychological Association or APA Style
The comma and period go inside the closing quotation mark:
She said, "No, let's cook it this way."
"No," she said, "let's cook it this way."
The APA blog provides a fantastic table that covers all punctuation and is worth bookmarking if you're embarking on an APA journey.
Canada and the USA
This is the norm in all of the US,and likely because of Canada's proximity to the US, Canada also puts periods and commas inside. The last I read, Canada has three publishers that still put the period or comma outside the closing quotation marks as publishers do in Britain.
Unless you write or work for those three publishers, always put your periods and commas inside the closing quotation mark. (See exception in next paragraph for legal text.)
Canadian Style also abides by this guideline as noted in the third paragraph here. Canadian Style, however, also provides an example of where you would place the punctuation outside the closing quotation mark. See (b) here.
MS Word Timesaver Tip of the Day
Already finished your paper and don't want pick your way through the paper to see if you've done it correctly?
Let the Find and Replace feature be your BFF. I'm not kidding, this will save you tons of time. It's a great thing to do as you finish up a paper.
On a PC, use Ctrl+H. On a Mac, that might be Command+H. Your Find/Replace dialogue box will pop up.
In the Find box, type a quotation mark + a period (Find: ".)
In the Replace box, type a period + a quotation mark. (Replace: .")
Click "Replace All." Done!
Now do the same for the comma. (Find: ", | Replace: ,")
Don't put spaces before or after when you type these into the Find and Replace boxes.
Any questions? If so, let me know in the comments below.
Meet the Editor
I'm Coreen, and I am a copy editor, writer, instructor, digital marketer, and student of PR and Communications for organizations doing positive work in the world.