I know that it is advisable to put commas, periods, exclamation marks, and question marks before the ending quotation mark when dealing with direct speech, or quoting whole sentences. But what if I just want to quote a single word or a phrase? For example, my sentence is this:

Don't forget the definition of "righteous" -- "morally right and good".

Is it correct to put a period after the quotation mark in such case? If not, is it always obligatory to insert terminating punctuation within quotation marks?

  • 1
    The answer varies. Different publications have different style guides or expectations. Jan 21, 2020 at 20:12
  • Okay, thank you. For me, it seems more logical to put commas after the quotation mark if I merely quote a single word.
    – Bonrey
    Jan 22, 2020 at 9:06

2 Answers 2


In typical UK style, the full stop would go after the quote marks, unless the full stop is part of the quotation.

In typical US style, the period goes inside the quote marks, even if not part of the original quote. The same goes for commas. Some US publications (such as "Wikipedia") are now using "British" style (source).

Note that question marks always follow “logic”. If they are part of the quote, they go inside the quotation marks, and outside if not.

(Note I'm a British user, so I used British conventions in that third paragraph.)


Yes you can put comma or full stop before quotation marks. Example: Tunde said," Messi was honoured yesterday." In the sentence comma is used before quotation marks. Note: put full stop before closing the quotation mark.

  • Yes, I know that it's necessary to put commas within quotation marks if we deal with direct speech. My question was whether or not I should commas when I quote a single word. Like in this sentence: Look up the word "inscrutable". (Should the comma go after the quotation mark or before?)
    – Bonrey
    Feb 12, 2020 at 17:57
  • No,don't put comma. If you list some items or make mention of things,then you can. Example:Sade said," She bought ice cream,rice,beans and salad." Remember to put full stop inside quotation mark.
    – Kehinde
    Feb 13, 2020 at 8:32
  • I meant a period, excuse me.
    – Bonrey
    Feb 13, 2020 at 8:35
  • Yes,make sure you put full stop before closing the quotation mark. Don't put it after quotation mark.
    – Kehinde
    Feb 13, 2020 at 12:02

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