Grammar Tip – Quotation Marks

I have noticed that some business writers have still not updated themselves with regard to the rules for North American quotation marks. The rule in Canada and the U.S. is that all periods and commas are placed inside quotation marks. (Changing the placement of periods and commas according to what is being quoted is the British style.)


Please mark the report “Confidential.” (North American style)

Please mark the report “Confidential”. (British style)

The article says it’s “the best ice cream in the world.” (North American style)

My latest article, “Communicating With Customers,” will be placed on the website next week.

“Smart,” “professional,” and “articulate” are words that should be added to the job description.??On the other hand, semicolons are always placed outside quotation marks.

Example (North American style)

He said, “I will pay the bill”; this really surprised us.

With question marks and exclamation points, place the punctuation inside the closing quotation mark, when it applies to the quoted material only; place it outside the closing quotation mark when it applies to the whole sentence.

Examples (The question/exclamation applies to quoted material only.)

He asked, “May I work from home on Friday?”? If you win the lottery, will you enter her office and yell “I quit!” Examples (The question/exclamation applies to the whole sentence.)

Did you hear him say, “You did a great job”?

Don’t anyone say “I’m bored”!

I know this information may shake some readers, but these are the North American rules.