Help! Inside or Outside Quotation Marks?

What is the rule for periods inside of quotation marks?  Well, it depends on whether you are American or British.  For the ACT, I will share with you the American rules:

,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .

Rule 1:  ALWAYS, ALWAYS, –did I write….  ALWAYS place a period and comma inside quotation marks in a sentence.

Example:  Margaret shared great advice with the audience, “It is important to do your best and trust God with the rest.”

Example:  Margaret shared great advice with the audience, “It is important to do your best and trust God with the rest,” and then she closed in prayer.


However, the rule changes when we use ! and ? (exclamation marks and question marks)

!   ?   !   ?   !   ?   !   ?   !   ?   !   ?   !   ?   !   ?

Rule 2:  Exactly the same as the British, you need to look at the sentence to see if the quotation is part of the entire sentence OR if the quotation is extra in the sentence.

A.  If the quotation is part of the entire sentence, place ! or ? OUTSIDE “(quotation marks).

Example:  Have you ever heard Mercy Me’s song, “I Can Only Imagine”?

B.  If the quotation by itself is an exclamation or question, place ! or ? INSIDE of ” (quotation marks).

Example:  Casting Crowns produced a wonderful song, “Who Am I?”


;   :   *   —   ;   :   *   —   ;   :   *   —   ;   :   *   —

Rule 3:  Semicolons, colons, asterisks, dashes ALWAYS, ALWAYS, –did I write… ALWAYS place OUTSIDE quotation marks in a sentence.

Example semicolon:  Casting Crowns produced a wonderful song, “Who Am I?“; I listen to it often.

Example colon:  You may want to purchase the following songs:  “Breathe,” “Be One,” and “Who Am I?”

Example asterisk:  Shirley Jackson uses irony to develop her story in “The Lottery.”*

Example dash:  Poetry titles should be written in quotation marks–“The Road Not Taken,” “Still I Rise,” and “Aspiration,” for example.

MLA Guidelines


  • 1’’ margins
  • Times New Roman size 12 font
  • Double-spaced
  • Your last name followed by the page number in a running head


  • Use active voice.
  • Use present tense when referring to events that happen within the literature
  • Remain consistent with tense (especially important to keep in mind when writing about historic non-fiction)

Title Page

  • A title page is not included when writing in MLA because of the heading on the first page of the document (see p. 117 of the MLA manual)

Main Body

  • Follow standard capitalization rules for titles.
  • Make sure your paper includes a thesis statement, “a single sentence the formulates both your topic and your point of view…your answer to the central question or problem you have raised” (p. 42, 1.8.2).
  • Include parenthetical citations in your paper whenever you use another person’s words or ideas. Usually this will include the author’s last name and a page reference: (Smith 10). See p. 214, 6.1.
  • Only include necessary information in parenthetical citations (p. 216).
    If you have included a signal tag—In his article, Smith stated, “quotation;”—the author should not be restated in the parenthetical citation.
  • When referencing plays and poetry, use the line number (not the page number).
  • Use block quotes sparingly and only when the prose quotation exceeds four lines.

Works Cited Examples

  • NOTE: The second line and all subsequent lines of each item on the reference list should be indented. Please see the MLA Sample Paper for an example of a properly formatted reference page.
  • The reference list should be double spaced.
  • Book
    Last name, First name. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.
  • Article in a scholarly journal
    Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Journal Volume.Issue (Year): pages. Medium of publication.
  • Web site
    (Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.)
    Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.

***Provided by Liberty University

Color-Coded Essay Format


Image result for kid friendly bones






Thesis.   Why 1.  Why 2.  Why 3.  Transition to why 1. = Paragraph 1     (Head)


Nice umbrella sentence for why 1.  Why 1 details.  Why 1 details.  Why 1 details.

Transition to why 2. = Paragraph 2  (Body – Neck)


Nice umbrella sentence for why 2.  Why 2 details.  Why 2 details.  Why 2 details.

Transition to why 3. = Paragraph 3  (Body – Stomach)


Nice umbrella sentence for why 3.  Why 3 details.  Why 3 details.  Why 3 details.

Transition to Thesis. = Paragraph 4  (Body – Arms)


Nice umbrella semicolon sentence for why 1, 2, 3.  Why 1 sentence.  Why 2 sentence.  Why 3 sentence.  Thesis restated.  (Body – Legs)


****Words = bones

Unless you build a body, you will only have many, beautiful bones piled together.