Is there some new rule that the period…

…is supposed to go outside the quotation marks???

I was reading the Economist today and observed that they placed several periods outside of the comma…and some inside…

What they do:

  • If the quote is a complete sentence (thought) they place the period inside the quotation marks.  e.g…”Georgetown is a wonderful school.”
  • If the quote is the title of a book or play the period is placed outside the quotation marks.  e.g… For relaxation, they can listen to the world’s academic authorities disputing the pronunciation of Homer and illuminating the knotty wordplay of Plato’s “Republic”.
  • If the quote is a phrase/words use to characterize a thought, the Economist places the period outside the quotations.  e.g…When asked about Georgetown University, Majorman, expressed it was “wonderful”.

I’ve cross referenced my findings with the New York Times.  It seems the NYT always places the period inside the quotation marks for complete & partial sentences (how I remember being taught in school). agrees with me.

FYI:  The Economist is a London-based publication.  Wikipedia explains the American style and British style here.

So are the rules of English set in stone or is our language evolving?  Who’s right?  Who’s wrong?

John Micklethwait is Editor-in-chief of the Economist

Well, you know what they say, “when in Rome”.  *snickering*

4 Responses to Is there some new rule that the period…

  1. Sheriece says:

    Funny, I was just thinking about this the other day.

    AP Stylebook says you’re right and Economist is wrong. But I’ve been doing it the Economist way. I truly think it reads better.

    Of course work mandates I follow AP rules.

  2. ateedub says:

    So most periodicals bend the rules of grammar to save space. That’s why they ALWAYS put the period inside the quotation marks. Plus, it’s a little easier to read that way.

    What I learned as a kid, is that you only put the period inside when the thing in quotation marks is a full sentence. Otherwise – for a phrase, or the title of a book – you put the period outside.

    I follow this rule until I was sorely disabused the summer I worked as a proofreader at a paper. I had all the typists angry with me…and that can be frightening!!

  3. Rules of punctuation w/ quotation marks differ depending on which side of the pond is being consulted. Americans place the period and comma inside the quotation marks; British folks place it outside. It’s that simple. (THE ECONOMIST is a British publication.)

  4. […] Majorman mused in his blog about the writing style of the Economist in the blog post “Is there some new rule that the period…” regarding the placement of periods inside or outside of quotation marks. If you read a variety […]

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