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Quotations, punctuation and footnotes.
Thread poster: patyjs

patyjs  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 1, 2008

I really want to get this right.

In British English, when you have a combination of a quotation, punctuation and a footnote, what order should they be in?

Here's an example:

John: The most important thing is following the rules. That's definitely it.1 (You'll have to imagine the footnote is in superscript.)

a) John said, "The most important thing is following the rules".

b) John said, "The most important this is following the rules. That's definitely it."

c) John stressed the importance of, "following the rules".

d) John was emphatic. "The most important thing is following the rules."

I know that in British English the punctuation generally comes outside the quotes unless it's a ! or a ?
I also know that the footnote should come after the punctuation. But what I can't seem to grasp is where the quotation marks come in.

In a) the quote is a complete sentence in itself but has an introductory phrase.
In b) the quote is has two complete sentences following an introductory phrase.
In c) the quote is incomplete and has an introductory phrase.
In d) the quote is complete and isolated.

I'm not sure if the last full stop is in the right place in b).
I'd like to know the correct placement of the footnote in each case in relation to the quotation marks and the period.


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:52
Swedish to English
+ ...
I would change a and c... Feb 1, 2008

Without checking in any grammar guides, my instinct is that b and d are correct, but that a should be:

John said, "The most important thing is following the rules." (inside the quotes)

and that c should be:

c) John stressed the importance of "following the rules". (no comma)

...with the footnote then following the final punctuation mark.

However, I'm a little confused about whether you mean quotes or speech marks as the examples make that a bit ambiguous.

It will be interesting to know what other BE natives think...

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Tetyana Dytyna  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:52
Member (2008)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Check out these resources Feb 1, 2008

Here's a good source on MLA punctuation:

According to them,
In your sentence a) the final period should go inside the quotation marks, as well as in sentence b).

Now for a sentence similar to you c) here's an example:
Mullen, criticizing the apparent inaction, writes, "Donahue's policy was to do nothing" (24).
so, the period goes after the reference (or the footnote).

here's more on rules of citation:

I hope it helps

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