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When punctuation should be like a carrot

If you leave your seeds or punctuation outside the fence, the rabbits will eat them up. 

I learned my language skills through three years of high school English, memorizing the AP style book in college and enduring newspaper editors calling me mocking names.

Reading the world's blogs, I see everyone hasn't been blessed by my editors. As I tell my clients, let me help you out.

Let's look at one of the founding rules in punctuation: Placement within quotes.

"How can you leave Michael Anthony out of a Van Halen reunion," shouted one angry fan. "He is the band!"

This fan's heart is in the right place, as is his punctuation. When do punctuation marks stay inside the quote marks?

Always.

Pretend you're planting a vegetable garden. You have fresh soil, a handful of seeds and a nifty wire fence to keep out the rabbits. Where do you place the seeds? Inside the fence.

If you leave your seeds or punctuation outside the fence, the rabbits will eat them up. It makes no sense.

As Bugs Bunny once said: "And remember, 'mud' spelled backwards is 'dum.' "

Tags: grammar

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