Where does that period go?

Hello, my delightful devotees,

As I flew over California in yesterday’s dreamland, I received a telepathic message from one Layla Von Trapp (changed her last name to protect her from you), saying that she and her laborious husband were wondering whether a period goes before or after quotation marks.

“Oh, Fairy Godwriter, would you please settle this issue once and for all? Whoever wins gets to lay on the couch and watch This Is Us, while the loser has to clean the bathtub and toilets.” 

Since I don’t want Layla to have to clean her toilets when she could be watching oh so perfect Randall Pearson, I decided to intervene.

So, where does the period go?

I’m going to give you a lawyerly answer: It depends. And yes, I know there’s a general consensus that lawyers can suck it, but it is what it is. I don’t make these grammar rules. I just blog about them.

If you’re following the APA Style or the Chicago Manual of Style and you live in the United States or Canada  (or your target audience is American or Canadian) periods and commas go inside the quotation marks.

If you live in the UK or Australia (or your target audience is British or Australian), periods and commas go outside quotation marks.

What about periods and parenthesis?

Once again, it depends. If what’s inside the parenthesis is a complete sentence, the period goes inside the parenthesis“Shakespeare and Company is my favorite bookstore in the world (I love everything in Paris, though.)”

If what’s inside the parenthesis is a partial statement, the period goes outside the parenthesis:  “I love reading Isabel Allende books (preferably in Spanish).”

Going back to Layla Von Trapp. Despite their very European surname, they reside in California, so… whom were you guys writing for, Layla?

That’s all for now, fairy admirers. It’s time for me to do some ghostwriting.

Much love,

The Fairy Godwriter


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