Quotations

Q. CMOS 6.9 and 6.10 clearly define where closing punctuation goes in relation to quotation marks—particularly when the quoted text is a complete thought or phrase. However, where does the period go in text like the following: In the Gross Weight column, type “.01” and in the Volume column, type “1”. I’ve been putting the period inside, as in the following: Change the customer order status from “Delivered” to “Invoiced/Closed.” Which is correct in these types of cases?

A. Please see CMOS 7.75 (“Distinguishing words to be typed and other elements”). In your first example, a period after the 1 is likely to be taken as part of what should be typed. At best, it’s ambiguous, so to avoid misreading, put the period outside the quotation marks. This situation is uncommon and an exception to the American rules for punctuating quotations. In the second example, the instruction is clear, so use standard punctuation, putting the period before the ending quotation mark.