Tag Archives: exclamation point

Innie or Outie?

No, I’m not going to vent about belly buttons.

I’m talking about (and a reader asked about) properly placing punctuation (alliterations later!) at the end of a sentence when quotation marks are involved. Does the period go inside  or outside the quote marks? How about a question mark? A comma? An exclamation point?

The answer? All of the above. Let me explain.

ALL commas and periods are placed within the closing quotation mark. NO exceptions.

My philosophy is Live and let live.”

If I believe Live and let live,” do you?

Question marks and exclamation points can be in or out, depending upon the quote.

If the punctuation mark is not part of the actual quote, it is placed outside the closing quote mark.

Do you agree the best philosopy is Live and let live”?

I say to you all, Live and let live”!

But if the punctuation mark is integral to the quoted material, it is placed inside the closing quote mark:

Do you like the song, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

I heard the guy yell, Fire!”

All other punctuation (semi-colon, colon, dash, etc.) are out. Always.

I say, To be or not to be”; that is the question.

I say, “To be or not to be” what do you say?

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Filed under English language, punctuation

Double Whammy

Have you ever been faced with the dilemma of writing a sentence that was both a question and an exclamation, and you didn’t know what punctuation to use? And if you used both, you didn’t know whether the question mark or exclamation point should be first?

What the hell happened here?!

Well, according to my bible, the Chicago Manual, the question mark is before the exclamation point in an exclamatory question. Okay, that answers that question!

But then I started digging and discovered that there actually is a punctuation mark that combines the two. Isn’t that wonderful?!

It’s called an interrobang. It’s been around since 1962, and can be found in the Windings font, which explains why I’ve never seen it or heard of it before. Maybe you’ve seen it? Did you know it had a name?

Call me weird, but I can’t wait to see what other punctuation I can discover.

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Point Taken!

I’m all for enthusiasm and energy ― in speech and in writing ― but I just can’t handle a writer’s overzealous use of the exclamation point.

You know what I’m talking about. The email from your friend on vacation in Hawaii who writes, “How beautiful and sunny it is here!!!” Or the teenager who proclaims in a love letter, “I LUV U SO MUCH!!!! I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU!!!”

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in love and paradise vacations, but I get the point the first time; more exclamations are just overkill.

When I see something written with an abundance of exclamation points, I immediately think I’m reading a comic book. Have you ever read one? I think the first rule of writing a superhero comic book story is that every single sentence ends with at least one exclamation point. Pow! Bam!! Zap!!!

My advice: Unless you’ve been tied up and thrown into the trunk of a car, luckily able to find a scrap of paper where you desperately scribble the words, “Help! I’ve been kidnapped!!” before your captors lock you in, don’t use them.

I mean it!

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