Full stops in quotation marks – where do they go?

If you’re using quotation marks – either for reported speech or for quoting phrases or titles – it’s important to know where to put the punctuation.

Where you put a full stop when using quotation marks depends on what you are quoting.

Quoting full sentences

If you are writing a sentence which is a full sentence, and wholly a quote, the ending punctuation goes inside the quotation marks.

Example

“I have nothing to declare except my genius.”  This is a famous quote from Oscar Wilde

Quoting sentence fragments

If you are writing a sentence where you use a quote towards the end, but the beginning of the sentence is not a quote, then the ending punctuation goes outside of the quotation marks.

Example

Wilde famously claimed “nothing to declare except my genius”.

If you are writing a sentence where you quote the end of a sentence, but it’s not the end of your own sentence, you don’t need to use any ending punctuation, unless it’s a question or an exclamation.

Example

Oscar Wilde, whilst professing nothing to declare “except his genius”, in fact cheated Customs on several occasions.

Notice that in the latter example, the comma goes outside of the quotation marks, as the comma is not part of the quote.

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