1. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Punctuation in lists of quoted items

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by minstrel, Aug 29, 2013.

    Here's a question that none of my punctuation references explicitly answers: How do you punctuate a list in which the list elements are in quotes? For example, a list of Hemingway's short stories:

    Ernest Hemingway wrote many short stories, including "Big, Two-Hearted River", "The Killers", "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place", and "Hills Like White Elephants".

    Is that correctly punctuated? Do the commas separating the titles go inside the quotes? Should the period at the end go inside the quotes? Should the commas separating the titles be semicolons, since some of the titles themselves contain commas?

    Questions abound! This kind of construction occurs in a story I want to submit today or tomorrow, and I want to get it right. Does anybody know the definitive answer?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    From what I remember from the Chicago Manual of Style, commas and periods go inside quotation marks even if they aren't part of the original title, quote, or whatever. Other forms of punctuation go outside the quotation marks. You should probably verify this, however.

    In British convention, the commas and periods go outside the quotation marks.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    should be inside for your list...

    that said, as noted above, old british rule was the reverse, but they're using ours more and more these days...
     
  4. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Mamma and others are correct, but remember there are exceptions to virtually every rule. In certain situations under specific style guides, colons and semicolons are placed outside of the ending quotation mark.
     
  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Aghh!

    I was just asking myself this question the other day, and I was rather hoping there was an easy, definitive answer. So much for that.

    So, not only are there situational rules, but also differing opinions depending on what side of the pond one inhabits. I'm curious, as I'm just starting to get into my first style guide.

    @mammamaia. Given that I'm British, and brand new to writing; if you were me, which set of opinions would be be more inclined to take on board, and why?
     
  6. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Just check it out in the style guide you are using. It should answer pretty much all of these questions.
     
  7. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    mammamias's post implies that many British authors have adopted the American way of doing things. Perhaps, at this juncture, it's something I shouldn't be giving much thought to... after all, tightening up the punctuation can be done further down the line. However, I suffer from learning difficulties, and as I'll be doing my own editing, I'd really like to get some idea of the pro and cons, sooner rather than later. I'm trying to set up a working practice that I can adhere to, and minimise the amount of fluff my brain has to handle.

    If what mamma says is true, and I'm not inclined to doubt her, I have two choices. Seems reasonable to me that when confronted with two sets of rules, one should look into the merits of both before making that choice.

    I could take the style guide I'm reading now as gospel, but I have several more sitting at the top of my TBR pile. What if their opinion differs? Do I just stubbornly cling to my British-ness, even when other writers have made a conscious decision to do otherwise?
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Do you know what style guide most publishers in the UK use? Here in the US, most publishers use the Chicago Manual of Style.
     
  9. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    That's something to look into... but, going by what mammamaia says, it seems that many British authors are taking their cues from the Chicago Manual of Style also.

    At the moment, any thought of seeking to get published is far from the forefront of my mind. I'm just trying to gear myself up and not completely discount the possibility.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I looked into my copy of the Chicago Manual of Style and it wasn't particularly helpful in this case. It shows how to punctuate lists, but not specifically lists of items in quotes. When I did it the way CMS says, it looked funny to me. I mean, it was probably correct, but it looked funny. I looked in the CMS index for "funny-looking lists" and there was no entry. Also "strange," "odd," and "kinda wrongish." No help to be found.

    Why don't reference books have indexes (indices?) people can actually use?

    :p
     
  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    From the 16th edition of the CMoS:
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you want to be published in the US, use our rule... if you will only publish in the UK, you can use either, but should do whatever each publisher you submit to wants...

    what 'situations' are you referring to, ecs?
     
  13. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @mammamaia Thanks for that. I suspect my writing might be better suited to a British audience, but it's good to be aware of the differences.
     
  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @thirdwind, I'm well aware of what the CMS (I have the 15th edition) says about putting commas inside the quotes, but that doesn't specifically address LISTS of quotes. I mean, it's probably correct, but with the comma inside the quotes, you wind up with this: comma, close quote, space, open quote. That looks funny on the page to me, especially in Courier, where open and close quotes are the same. It just looks wrong.

    But I guess that's just me and I'll have to get used to it. I submitted my story last night, so it's out of my hands, anyway. On to the next story now! :)
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The rule applies in all cases, whether it's a list or not. I know for a fact that the APA Publication Manual specifically says to put commas inside quotation marks for lists. If it makes you feel better, the APA manual and CMoS agree on basically everything. The only difference I know of is the way they handle citations.
     
  16. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    CMS, for instance, states that they belong outside the ending quote, the same with an emdash. From the context and the quoted sentences, I take from that, that the situation is in quoted speech, rather than direct speech. Something along the lines of:

    He said, "Go and find him"; instead I ran to the car and locked the doors.

    In other words, when the punctuation is for the entire line, rather than just for the quote itself, the punctuation falls outside the quotation mark (which explains the question mark moving back and forth inside and outside of a quote). Of course, the caveat to this is the period, which always sits inside the ending quote mark.

    Turabian style guide follows the same rules, though Turabian is more of an academic style guide.
     
  17. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Oh, and since they're titles of short stories, the OP quote would be wrong in today's writing. If written today, it should be

    Ernest Hemingway wrote many short stories, including Big, Two-Hearted River, The Killers, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, and Hills Like White Elephants.

    Unless of course, the short stories are all part of a single, larger book. Then, it goes back to having quotes around it.
     
  18. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Short story titles are always written with quotation marks, so the original sentence is correct.
     
  19. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thirdwind is right - short story titles always have quotes around them. But even if they didn't, E.C. Scrubb's version is incorrect, because some of the titles contain commas. In that case, the items in the list should be separated by semicolons. Otherwise it looks like Hemingway wrote a story called "A Clean" and another one called "Well-Lighted Place."
     
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  20. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I'm glad you pointed that out. It will go a long way toward helping me remember.
     
  21. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Dang, I missed the comma, nice catch on that. Concerning short stories, however, I disagree. A short story that is part of a larger collection will have quote marks (according to CMS), because the name of the collection will be in italics. However, a short story that stands alone should be in italics, because it is the top-level name that can refer to it.

    So for instance, Fun with Dick and Jane is, for all intents and purposes, a short story, but it stands alone as its own and thus, is italicized. If it was originally published with other short stories in a larger collection then it would be in quotation marks and the collection would receive the italics.

    The only problem with this logic is the parallel to poetry, where titles of short poems are enclosed in quotation marks, but a very long poetic work is italicized (CMS 8.179). That seems to argue against what I've said above. On the other hand, freestanding publications such as pamphlets, reports, and other such publications are treated as book titles (8.183).

    So, are freestanding short stories treated like short stories in a larger publication (and also like short poetry), or are they treated like a book title? I'm still leaning toward the latter (again, only for freestanding short stories), but I'm willing to have my mind changed on this one since there's a lot more wiggle room than I originally thought.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the US rule for always placing punctuation marks inside quotes relales to commas and periods, not other marks[ such as ? and !], which often go outside..
     
  23. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've never seen in done this way. Even short story titles that stand alone (aren't part of a collection) go inside quotes. Italics are usually reserved for longer works like books, plays, and long poems.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you're right, tw... ecs is wrong on that last part... it has nothing to do with what is the 'top-level name' etc., whatever ecs means by that...
     
  25. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Interesting . . . what areas have you come across short story titles? (And do you know what the normal style guide is for it?) I'm asking because as I've said, I'm used to seeing (and @mammamaia, this is what I meant) the overarching title of any work as italics and any titles that fall under that work in quotes. So, book in italics, chapters in quotes. Name of a commentary in italics, name of a chapter in the commentary in quotes, same with monographs, plays (vs. acts), etc. So my assumption here was that since these stories are associated with anything else, it would follow the same style.

    If I remember right, your a . . . English professor, literature professor, something like that? Can you explain the logic behind putting short stories in quotes rather than italics? It'd help me get my mind around it . . . and what is the difference between an actual short story (that's published separately) and something like a Dick and Jane book? Is it word count plus, or sophistication of plot plus word count, or number of scenes plus word count . . . Because obviously, style issues concerning short stories have been outside my purview (don't really reference short stories in any kind of historical/theological/linguistic research), so I'm interested in finding out where I'm seeing this wrong.
     

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