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I wish we could do that here!


The placement of the period (or, as we call it, 'fullstop') is due to a difference between US English and Commonwealth English in rules of punctuation. The punctuation in question goes outside the quotation marks if the bit being quoted does not have its own fullstop (or comma etc).

A well known example of this is as follows:

Shakespeare's play Richard III contains the line "Now is the winter of our discontent".


Shakespeare's play Richard III contains the line "Now is the winter of our discontent."

That second one is incorrect in Commonwealth English, because this is no fullstop (period) after 'discontent' in the full quotation.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York.

Hence the fullstop outside the quotation marks.

Crawford Kilian

I understand that the period inside quotation marks stems from 19th-century American typesetters who thought it looked tidier. Whatever the reason, it's established in North America with one exception:

In legal documents, quotation marks surround only the actual words quoted. So commas and periods go outside the quotation marks unless they appeared there in the original text being quoted.

So when I'm teaching my college's legal administrative assistants, who are heading for law offices, I have to explain this issue in great detail.

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