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© Ugur Akinci
There are two different ways in English to place a comma when used with quotation marks: inside or outside the quote.
Here are two examples:
INSIDE THE QUOTE: “We need a new server,” the admin said.
OUTSIDE THE QUOTE: “We need a new server”, the admin said.
After decades in this business, I have to admit that there is no one single “correct” way to do it. It all depends; it depends on the style sheet of your organization; depends on what your client needs; depends on your aesthetic judgement, etc.
MS Word does not by default force you to do it one way or the other.
However, you can configure MS Word in such a way so that it will do one of the three options:
1) It will give you no response at all. It will not tell you one way or the other if you are making a “mistake.” In this option, MS Word will simply not care where you’re placing the comma or if you’re placing it at all.
2) MS Word will give you an “error message” (in the form of a green squiggly line under the offending text chunk) if you place the comma INSIDE the second (right) quotation mark.
3) MS Word will give you an “error message” (in the form of a green squiggly line under the offending text chunk) if you place the comma OUTSIDE the second (right) quotation mark.
Here is how you can configure each of these “error message” options:
- Click File > Options to display the Word Options dialog box.
- Click the Proofing link in the left navigation bar to display the proofing options in the right pane.
- Select “Grammar and Style” from the Writing Style drop-down list. Then click the Settings button to display the Grammar Settings dialog box:
- Under the Require group of options, pay attention to the “Punctuation required with quotes.” Select one of the three following respective options: Inside, Outside, Don’t Check.
Here are the results of these options:
MS Word gives error (green squiggly line) when the comma is placed outside the second (right) quotation mark.
MS Word gives error (green squiggly line) when the comma is placed inside the second (right) quotation mark.
BUG NOTICE: MS Word 2010 has a bug regarding this feature. When there is NO punctuation mark outside the quotation marks, Word displays an error message as expected (SECOND sentence above). But when we place a comma INSIDE the second quotation mark, MS Word does not display an error message (FIRST sentence above) but it should.
MS Word doesn’t care one way or the other. No punctuation error messages are displayed — unless you use multiple punctuation marks (THIRD sentence below).