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Posted on Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Dave!Today is the penultimate day of Blogiversary III Celebration week! And while I wait for 9:00pm to arrive, I am taking my life in my own hands by defying a goddess.

This is not an easy thing to do, especially considering that the goddess in this instance is the charming, talented, and scorching hot Liz, who I love more than Coke with Lime (and if you've been reading Blogography for any length of time, you know that's quite a lot). Today on Everyday Goddess, Liz takes issue with people who do not properly enclose punctuation within quote marks:

Witness The Horror:
        He likes to call it "the muff".
Now what, WHAT, is going on with that period? See how sad and lonely? See how ridiculous and downright FLOATING-OUT-IN-THE-MIDDLE-OF-NOWHERE it looks?

You can read the whole story here, and I agree that she is 100% correct. Every rule book tells you that periods and commas should be enclosed within the quotes just as she says. It drives me crazy too.

But, alas, I refuse.

At least I do when I am writing for the web.

When I am writing for PRINT, where letter forms are spaced properly, and I am in control of kerning, tracking, and leading, then I do indeed follow the proper grammatical rules. Because in print, I know that it will turn out looking as it should...


See that? See the beautiful way that the the end-quote floats ABOVE the period in that sentence? She how wonderful it is that you can understand perfectly that the quote is a part of the text? But look at what we get when we try the same thing on the web...


AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! That end-quote might as well be in another Zip code! By the time I finally get to it FLOATING WAY OVER THERE, I've forgotten that it even went with the sentence that preceded it! In fact, it is SO removed from things that, to me at least, it looks as though you are starting a NEW quote!!

That drives me even MORE insane than doing it the wrong way...


Ah! There we go! The quote is actually next to the text as it should be, and all is right with the world!

So, until typography on the web moves out of the stone age, I will continue to violate the rules because it looks better to me. And also because a very wise person told me THERE ARE NO RULES IN BLOGGING.

And, with this in mind, I do a lot of things I shouldn't. Like using boatloads of unnecessary ellipses everywhere (those are the "..." dots you see way too much here). And not omitting the final comma in a list. And starting sentences with prepositions. And using run-on sentences for dramatic effect. And dozens of other things I do wrong so as to express myself as I want.

So my sincerest apologies to Liz, because I love her more than buttered toast (and if you've been reading Blogography for any length of time, you know that's quite a lot) but I remain in defiance of a rule that makes my blog look yucky.

(But I do work hard to not confuse "their" with "they're" and "your" with "you're" because that crap drives me nuts!)

Categories: Blogging 2006Click To It: Permalink


  1. James Bow says:

    You defied the Everyday Goddess!!! Prepare to meet her wrath–

    ** zwot! **

    Hey! Watch it with those lightning bolts, Goddess!

  2. karla says:

    i routinely break the rules. Hey, I had to learn them in school, all that grammar and shit. like picasso did with art, it’s my right to break the rules all to hell once learned.

    Unfortunately now i have forgotten them all.

    which makes me old, sad and completely ungrammatical in every way.

  3. Dave2 says:

    James: I will undoubtedly have to go into hiding for this.

    Karla: But on the bright side… YOU JUST GOT BACK FROM VACATIONING IN THAILAND AND GOT TO SEE ANGKOR WAT!! No sympathy for you! (yes, I am still a little jealous).

  4. Jeff says:

    THANK YOU!… for validating what I’ve always felt as well.

    I’ve always been confused about what to do with the puctuation mark when just the last word of the sentence is in quotes because it’s describing something in an unusual way, such as: Man that girl was “fugly!”

    Are you supposed to you keep the punctuation in or out?

  5. Bre says:

    What gets me is “its” and “it’s”

    ….. well that and the ever delightful “ur,” “wut,” and “4get”

    (I really tried to put the commas outside the quotation marks, but I just couldn’t!

  6. ms. sizzle says:

    i almost made that very mistake earlier. i am so glad this blog is here to edumacate me.

    πŸ™‚ sizz

  7. Chase says:

    Dearest Dave,

    While I appreciate your rule-spouting on punctuation inside of quotes (as I, too, am a grammar whore), I must repremand you for missing a whole rule there.

    It SHOULD be:

    She said, “I love you, baby.”

    See that comma right before the I? Use it, dammit!

    (I realize this is Dave’s blog and not Chase’s, so you may now punish me in whatever way you see fit. Thank you.)

  8. Dave2 says:

    Jeff: Periods and commas are supposed to go within the quotes EVERY time… regardless of whether you are quoting a single word, or the entire sentence. It doesn’t matter. Other punctuation changes based on conditions of the text.

    Bre: Yeah, that’s another good one. But I have to admit, it’s one that always confuses me as well. I mean, in every other word the apostrophe shows possession… EXCEPT with “its” where it doesn’t… it’s showing a contraction instead. The English language is a mind-bender alright.

    Sizzle: Yes, but don’t listen to ME because I am telling you to do it the wrong way! πŸ™‚

    Chase: Ah, but don’t you ignore that rule when you are introducing a partial quote? I dunno, because I’m terrible with this stuff. But I thought that omitting the comma tells you that the quoted text is not the complete statement. I’d imagine that the ACTUAL quote was probably something like this:

    “I want to tell you how I feel. Because feelings are important and I want to be sure that you understand where I am coming from. I can only hope that one day you will share you feelings with me. Does that sound like something you can work on? Can you open up share your feelings? Because that’s the only way I see our relationship growing. I guess what I am trying to say is that I love you, baby.”

    And I, being a guy, would boil all that down to this:

    “I love you, baby.”

    So if I were writing about it, I would omit the comma like so:

    She said “I love you, baby.”

    Wouldn’t I?? It’s been a long time since high school!

  9. RW says:

    Punctuation that is not part of a title or sign appears AFTER the quotation marks.

    I recently wrote…

    I am proud of never having seen a single episode of the “American Idol”, “Deal or No Deal”, “24”, “Survivor”, or “Jerry Springer” but

    and this is correct and acceptable because the titles of those shows do not contain COMMAS.

    HERE IS a reference.

    And I quote: “Punctuation is placed outside quotation marks, except for periods and commas which are placed inside quotation marks. However, when describing a form, sign, or label, periods and commas that are not part of a form, sign, or label should also be placed outside quotation marks.”

    And I put the period inside the quotation mark because I quoted a full sentence.

    I don’t no who this Liz person is, but who ever she is it’s the way it is and thats’ that.

  10. Dave2 says:

    Oh yeah… when using quotes to denote something other than quoted material (such as television show titles), then you are absolutely correct. But when writing an actual quotation, the period or comma always goes inside the end-quote.

    At least if you play by the rules. πŸ™‚

  11. RW says:

    Thank you for not noticing I should have had a comma after “Springer”.

    But what about the period just there now?

  12. Shevy-22 says:

    Sorry Dave, but shouldn’t your last line have been, “because that crap drive[s] me nuts!”

    Sorry, after reading Bre’s comment, I became grammatically anal. Besides, I hate the misuse of then and than.

    Liz, should I have used quotations around those words?

  13. Dave2 says:

    RW: That’s correct. My understanding is that the period does not go within the end-quote because it is not quoted material. I would have used quotes around “then” and “than” to set them apart from the sentence, but I am the LAST person you would want to ask! πŸ™‚

    Shevy: Okay, now this was a complete oversight… I know it’s “drives” but forgot the “s”. D’oh!

  14. RW says:

    Oh and nyah, nyah Bre didn’t close her parenthesis neither.

    Oh. My. Gawd.

  15. Dave2 says:

    Indeed, RW!

    If I worried about all this confusing crap every time I wrote something, an entry for Blogography would take hours!

    If you don’t mind, I think I’ll be going back to not caring again. πŸ™‚

  16. Chanakin says:

    Thankyou for you’re advise;

  17. Kevin says:

    I still try to put the punctuation inside the quote mark simply because it helps me maintain consistency in my “real life” where I work some of the time as a writer and proofreader. I’ve found, as you know, that if I incorporate some new style rule in my blog, my brain learns it much faster than if I just do it at work simply because I’m typing on my blog far more often.

    Oh, and you forgot “there.”

    Another sticky point for me is “its” vs. “it’s.” For the record, folks, the only time you use “it’s” is if you are using a conjunction of “it is.” “It’s” is not possessive; the possessive form is actually “its.” This is one of the only times you violate the apostrophe rule to show possession.

  18. Jeff says:

    Hold on a sec. Now you’re confusing me (as if that’s hard to do).

    You just told RW: “That’s correct. My understanding is that the period does not go within the end-quote because it is not quoted material.”

    Isn’t that the same thing as I asked you about with my “fugly” example?

    This whole comments section reminds me of my high-school grammar class. Yikes!

  19. Dave2 says:

    As I said, I’m not the guy you really want to be asking, because my grasp of actual grammar is quite poor… but if it is not an actual quotation of something, then the rules of quotation don’t apply.

    Or do they?

    I dunno. Depends on the use of the word “fugly”.

    Or what you mean when you say “Man that girl was ‘fugly!’.” πŸ™‚

  20. Bec says:

    Oh my god, a discussion about punctuation. I think I am in love.

    I leant back in my chair and grabbed the all holy Oxford English Dictionary to see what it said.
    “A comma also separates parts of a sentence that balance or complement each other, and can introduce direct speech, especially in the continuation of a dialogue”

    Then Dave said, “Oh my God, is Bec ever annoyng with this punctuation nonsense.”

    Liz replied, “But, she used the appendices in a dictionary… And she was completely missing the point. Bless. Come, let us rule the planet together and make up our own punctuation rules!”

    But, in regards to the whole quotation mark thing, I have just read three different punctuation books (people keep buying me these things just because I am a wanna-be writer… Thanks, no, really!) and they just made my head hurt. And, considering how many typos I usually have in my comments, checking this one has made me need a painkiller.

  21. Dave2 says:

    With the exception of the aesthetics of poor web typography forcing me to improperly use periods and commas outside of quotations… there is one rule I break intentionally all the time.

    Commas in lists. You are SUPPOSED to omit the final comma like this:

    He added ketchup, pickles, onions and mayo.

    But I hate that. HATE THAT!! It makes it sound as though onions and mayo are one item (or grouped items) rather than two distinct items. Thus I write it like this:

    He added ketchup, pickles, onions, and mayo.

    And I don’t care what the rule books say, BECAUSE I AM RIGHT!! All the grammartarians can kiss my ass! There should be a final comma in that list for distinction of that final item… just like they are there for distinction of the previous items! Omitting that comma makes NO sense! Gack!!

  22. Chase says:

    1) Chanakin is about to get smacked.

    2) Kevin has a real life?

  23. Dave2 says:

    I think that Chanakin WANTS to get smacked. πŸ™‚

    And now that the “Lost Blogger Campaign” has ended, I think Kevin does, in fact, have a life.

  24. lizriz says:

    David Simmer II, are you trying to seduce me?


  25. Dave2 says:

    Yes… I am trying to seduce you with my astounding lack of grammar skillz. πŸ™‚

  26. lizriz says:

    And where on the web does the writing look like a Commodore 64 version of Zork?

  27. Dave2 says:

    Umm… apparently that would be my blog. I published those quotes here, then did a screen capture (which I then enlarged).

    And I never owned a Commodore 64… I played “Zork” on my Atari 800, thank you very much! πŸ™‚

  28. adena says:

    You’re all a bunch of grammar Nazis!!

    (I always do the quote/punctuation thing wrong…but, you know what? I DON’T CARE!! It’s a blog, not a novel.)

    However, I agree about It’s/its, Their/they’re, your/you’re…those annoy me. Even I have my breaking point. (But, only because I read it like it’s written…so if someone says “go get you’re toy.” I read it like “Go get you are toy.”, and then I sit there thinking “What??”)

  29. Troy says:

    That is just about the dumbest grammer rule I’ve ever heard. Myself and grammer don’t get along very well.

  30. lizriz says:

    Ah, it was the *enlargement* that threw me…

    Either that, or I just really wanted to throw out a reference to Commodore 64 Zork in some sad attempt at establishing my geek cred. So sad. πŸ™‚

    Bec is my new best friend now, BTW. Too funny!

  31. Firda says:

    English is not my first language/mother-tongue so I’m by no means the authority in English grammar/writing, but I like to think that:

    She said “I want you, baby”. (RIGHT)
    She said “I want you, baby.” (WRONG)

    She said, “I want you, baby.” (RIGHT)
    She said, “I want you, baby”. (WRONG)


    He added ketchup, pickles, onions, and mayo. (RIGHT)
    He added ketchup, pickles, onions and mayo. (WRONG)

    I love making my own rules. πŸ™‚ You’d fit right in in FirdaLand, Dave!

  32. BlogLaughs says:

    Some rules are OK to break when being creative. Incomplete sentences, for instance, can really drive home a point.


    (All caps is ridiculous. One exclamation point was enough too, but I broke a rule in attempt to show fake anger.)

    When writing a blog, it’s OK to use improper punctuation, or not capitalize (God, I hate that), or make enough spelling mistakes to remind readers of the Soul Train Scramble Board.

    It still says something about the author.

    Mistakes are one thing. Choosing to make mistakes is another. Making them because of ignorance is entirely something else.

    The reader will decide.

    Do you want that? Do you care?

    Sometimes I care. Sometimes I don’t.

    I have worked in the editorial department of newspapers and magazines for the past 16 years. Some rules mean more to me than others.

    With your example, my copy editor would change it to read:

    She said, “I want you baby.”

    The comma after “said” is mandatory but the one after “baby” would mean more to her than me.

    I would allow the writer to do what he or she wants. I wouldn’t change that one, but I know she would.

  33. Chaz says:

    Yes, punctuation is a tricky device. Depending on which style guide or reference you peruse, you may get a different answer to a particular question. I know that in High School and College, however, we have been told to conform to the MLA Handbook for proper grammatical styling. For those who are unaware, MLA stands for Modern Language Association and is an organization founded by teachers and scholars. Given its widespread use in an academic setting, I happen to have a copy of the MLA Handbook for my own easy reference.

    According to the MLA Handbook, it does not matter if the you are referencing a poem or short story in quotations; you must still place the punctuation inside quotes as follows:

    In “Memories of West Street and Lepke,” Robert Lowell, a conscientious objector(or “C.O.”) recounts meeting a Jehovah’s Witness in prison: “‘Are you a C.O.?’ I asked a fellow jailbird. / ‘No,’ he answered, ‘I’m a J.W.'” (38-39).

    From above, you should not be citing a TV show in quotations, it should be underlined or italicized. All this according to the MLA Handbook.

    At this point, I’ve beaten the issue into the ground, and my overall goal was simply to illustrate how different guides advocate different grammatical styling–such is the state of the English language.

  34. Rabbit says:

    Dude, I took a break from the Godfather marathon for a lesson in grammar?

    I learned all the grammar rules in grade school . . . just so I can feel guilty when I break them now.

  35. SJ says:

    This entire debate has caused me to have an anxiety attack. Besides lists, I am also obsessive-compulsive about grammar and punctuation (you can blame five years of professional proofreading for that). And now you are telling me that we can simply IGNORE Strunk & White and Shertzer when we feel something doesn’t “look right” or a rule “doesn’t make sense”? Are you saying that anytime I consider a comma superfluous I can just LEAVE IT OUT?!?!

    What the hell are we paying the Grammar Police for, then?

  36. Dave2 says:

    I admit that it is difficult for me to intentionally break a rule that has been ingrained into me for decades. In fact, often times I follow the rule “correctly” and then have to change it to be “wrong” when I notice it looking stupid after posting.

    When web typography catches up to the modern world and stops acting like a typewriter, I will gladly… gladly change the whole end-quote/comma/period to be correct. Until then, it’s my blog and I will punctuate in a way that it visually pleasing to me.

    In the meanwhile, I honestly don’t care what intentional punctuation errors cause people to think of me… call me ignorant or call me a rebel, that is (and always will be) a decision for the reader to make. And most of the time they make it regardless of where my commas and periods are placed! πŸ™‚

  37. ssp says:

    I’ll try to be vaguely constructive on this. But I won’t try to fool your comment form into posting anything non-trivial.

    So I’ll just offer this link as a starting point for improving the typographical situation.

  38. mikey says:

    I have problems with Threw, through, ect, ect. I am so sure my grammer sucks.

  39. Kevin says:

    Dave, thank you for sticking up for me.

    Chase, bite me. πŸ˜‰

  40. Nicole says:

    I was an English major for two years. I loved the literature, but HATED the grammar so I switched. To journalism. That was a mistake. Not a mistake in that I do love to write, but it was a mistake in my attempt to escape grammar. My bible then became the AP Stylebook. Read it, live it, love it.

    The problem with grammar and punctuation is that rules change over time, vary by country, and sometimes what is proper grammar and punctuation just looks really, really weird. But if you’re writing a news story that’s the way you write it. If however you are writing for your own personal use or you need to break grammar rules to portray something in a certain way, then I say have at it. I know I break rules all the time on my blog and I don’t really care because I know in my heart I could do it the β€œproper” way if I really wanted to.

    Good lord Dave, this grammar post has spawned some of the longest comments I’ve ever seen on your blog. In fact this is the longest comment I have think I have ever written. Ever. It almost makes it hard to stop typing…

  41. Chanakin says:

    It would be so much easier to just write whatever you want then throw a big pile of punctuation at the bottom of the page Then your readers can have a choice of what they want to put where Ploblem solved


  42. RW says:

    That’s enough of this… I’m going down to Ernies Hot Dog’s…

  43. SJ says:

    Can we talk about who’s winning the prizes, instead?

  44. Eve says:

    I β™₯ grammar.

    That is why I am an editor by trade.

    One of the reasons I β™₯ grammar is that when used correctly, it properly conveys the exact intended meaning, thereby avoiding ambiguity. But, if people don’t know the rules of grammar, it defeats the purpose of using it.

    But I’m not a grammar nazi. I feel, especially for personal writings like blogs, that it’s OK to write as you would speak — conversationally.

    Like, Nicole, I was a journalism major so I too was educated in the ways of the AP Stylebook. But now I work in book publishing, so it’s Chicago Style all the way.

  45. timothy says:

    According to Lynne Truss, true goddess of punctuation, puntuation is a courtesy designed to help readers understand a story without stumbling. The Everyday Goddess should become more worldly and understand that the her AP reference, “The period and the comma always go within the quotation marks,” only applies in the United States. Commas and periods (ahem, full stops) may go outside of the quotation marks (ahem, inverted commas) at appropriate times in the rest of the the English speaking (writing) world. Where’s the love? Where’s the tolerance? Where’s the understanding? Maybe we should adopt Gertrude Stein as our goddess, become enemies of punctuation, write as we please and live in peace.

  46. kilax says:

    I have an anal retentive editor fiance who reads my site and tells me when I do things like that incorrectly… so I try to make my grammar as perfect as possible!

  47. Bonnie says:

    Dave, the comma before “and” as in “He added ketchup, pickles, and lettuce” is called a serial comma. It’s a style issue, not a rule of grammar. As with all style issues, the main thing is just to be consistent in your usage. Personally, I love the serial comma and agree that sentences look funny without it.

  48. BlogLaughs says:

    Dave, just for clarification, when I said some people make mistakes because of ignorance, I wasn’t insiuating you were ignorant.

    You made it clear you made those “mistakes” on purpose because of how it looks on the screen. I perfectly understand.

    I meant that some people make the same mistake because they just don’t know the rules.

    The reader oftentimes doesn’t know why the writer used a particular puncuation. That’s all I meant.

  49. Dave2 says:

    Oh… I never took it that way at all, so no worries. πŸ™‚

    I know I know the rules! I’m just a rebel, that’s all. πŸ˜€

  50. Belinda says:

    Never had a grammar class in my life. Does not that glorious sentence fragment illustrate this beautifully? Or that one? I went with “History of the English Language,” which was MUCH more interesting. But alas, having missed out on “Grammar and Syntax,” I’m ignant, as we say down here, and honestly couldn’t parse a complex sentence to save my life.

    I break all kinds of rules of grammar and syntax on my blog. It’s MY blog, and I want it to read the way I’m thinking, and as close to the way I speak, as possible most of the time. I want it to be “conversational.” I am guilty of EVERY offense, from USING ALL-CAPS FOR EMPHASIS, to rampant use of ubiquitous punctuation…to misuse of periods to. Indicate. A. Pause. Between. Words or phrases. All that crap, I do it. And I’m looser with a double-hyphen than anyone you’ll ever come across–that I can almost guarantee!

    When I think about it, misspellings and the lack of “breaks” in writing (whether that’s in the form of run-on sentences or failing to create separate paragraphs) are the only things that bug me, the latter more than the former, because it interferes with the flow of the narrative. Misspellings merely create a dissonance inside my head as I read, and I can overlook those.

    That said, I do wish everyone would learn to spell the word “definitely.” I definately do.

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