Semicolons, semicolons, and hyphens remain outside quotation marks. Quotation marks are required whenever you specify the exact words spoken or written by someone else. In American English, double quotation marks are used to indicate quotations. Single quotation marks indicate quotation in quotation marks: you should also be sure to place other punctuation marks at the end of the quotation marks. Commas and periods are always enclosed in quotation marks: periods and commas are enclosed in quotation marks, including single quotation marks. However, in a legal document, everything must be in its place. Here are five tips to keep in mind and follow to make sure you properly drill through your legal documents, memos, case files, letters, and other forms of paperwork. Punctuation is a component of writing that people rarely think about or notice, except when it`s wrong. At worst, misused punctuation marks — commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and the like — can confuse the meaning of your sentences and leave your reader confused and frustrated. Even less glaring mistakes, such as a missing or misplaced apostrophe, can make your written work look like carelessness and lack of attention. According to Columbia Law School, the relationship between punctuation and quotation marks depends on the type of punctuation used. For example, if you quote a sentence or sentence at the end of a sentence, there must be a period before the closing quotation mark, even if this is not necessarily how the sentence ended in the original source.
Commas must also be enclosed in quotation marks. However, question marks and exclamation marks should be placed outside the quote unless they appear in the original source. While commenting on student work, I have noticed a decline over the years in students` use of quotation marks around defined terms, especially when they are defined in inner parentheses. I note that, for example, investment bankers do not generally use quotation marks, but lawyers do. I think it is clearer to do so, otherwise some terms may be confused with the text in parentheses, and I believe in consistency. But stay out of quotation marks if they`re part of your own sentence: the only time you have to decide where the punctuation goes is if you have a question mark or an exclamation mark. These go inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quotation, outside if they are not. Related: Law firms work best when there are standards that everyone is expected to meet. A legal document created by an author must be identical to a document created by a lawyer in the same office. Read our blog on “The Value of Standardization in Today`s Law Firms.” In American English, all commas and periods are enclosed in quotation marks. This is true whether the quote is an entire sentence or a fragment.
In Commonwealth English, the opposite is true. So if you see a Canadian, British, Indian, or New Zealand quote, the periods and commas follow the same rule as below for question marks and exclamation marks. But we are in America – you have to do it right. Punctuation is perhaps one of the most abused elements of writing in general – from professional and academic writing to creative and legal writing. Diction, word placement and sentence structure seem to dominate the writing world, while the value of precise punctuation seems to fall through the cracks. The quotation marks represent the language quoted or spoken. Here are some instructions for use: It may seem tedious and time-consuming to master the proper placement and use of punctuation in the standard document. However, it`s important to note that you can seriously compromise the quality of your documentation if you don`t. Correct punctuation helps structure your document and improve the quality of actual content.
Perhaps a trade-off to save time without sacrificing quality is to use a legal document format or custom template to help you navigate common legal forms, memos, and other forms of documentation. Whichever specific approach you choose, make sure proper punctuation is a top priority. And the use of quotation marks is not only useful, but also standard among American practitioners. (If other agreements are used in other jurisdictions, please let me know.) The rules for using other punctuation marks in quotation marks are quite simple. If you begin a quote with a sentence like “He said,” “The record says,” or “As Justice Scalia wrote,” you should use a comma before the quotation marks: Use a single punctuation mark. If more than one request, choose the strongest. Exclamation marks are stronger than question marks. So now you can shout “Yes!” when someone asks you, “Do you know the right way to put quotation marks?” Question marks and exclamation marks are enclosed in quotation marks if they are part of the original quotation: And if you`re using a definition verb, it makes sense to put the defined term in bold and in quotation marks, because quotation marks replace the distancing made possible by punctuation in a glossary. Finally, one of the most common proofreading errors I see is an open quotation mark without its end partner.
Read the Infoware blog for more information and tips to improve your legal document writing skills, and learn how our legal document automation software can increase the accuracy and productivity of your law firm. If the sentence and quoted text end with the same punctuation mark, use a single character and enclose it in quotation marks. A common grammatical problem is how to punctuate a quote correctly. Is there a semicolon inside or outside the closing quotation mark? What about a question mark? What if the quote itself is a question? What if you have nested quotation marks? Here are some guidelines: In most legal documents, the hyphens used in the text appear to be intentionally perceptible to most readers. Although hyphens and hyphens are regularly used in many different spellings, two specific types of hyphens – hyphen and hyphen – play an important role in legal drafting. 1st period and comma. Always enclose periods and commas in closing quotation marks, including nested periods. This is the traditional American style. (In British English, the style usually consists of placing periods and commas outside the quotation marks. But there are many exceptions.) 3.
Question marks and exclamation marks. A question mark or exclamation mark may be inside or outside the quotation mark, depending on whether it is part of the original quotation or not. If so, as in the second and fourth examples, put it inside; If not, leave it outside. If the quote is long, do not use quotation marks. Instead, present it as a quote at the background. However, keep in mind that quotes are most effective when they are short and used sparingly. If you need to quote something with an error, use sic. Semicolons and colons at the end of a quotation should be placed outside quotation marks: use quotation marks only for directional quotation marks – if the language is particularly strong or needs to be precise. In contrast, indirect quotes summarize or report what someone said.
If you want to introduce a quote with an independent clause (a sentence that could stand alone as a separate sentence), you need to use a colon before the quotation marks: quotation marks are misused in so many legal and non-legal writings that it`s an epidemic. Of course, I have a point of view: MSCD 5.18 says, “Put each defined term associated with a stand-alone definition in quotation marks and emphasize bold.” And as for built-in definitions, MSCD 5.37 says, “Enclose each defined term in quotation marks enclosed in quotation marks and indicate in bold.” If a question is part of the quotation, the question mark must be enclosed in quotation marks. Otherwise, it stays outside. Perhaps one of the most common errors in punctuation is its relationship and placement in quotation marks. Many people seem more comfortable putting their quotation marks before punctuation (e.g., Mr. Smith stated that “the driver appeared drunk at the scene.”) The hyphen is perhaps the least used sign in legal writing. The hyphen can be used in a variety of ways, including creating a pause in thought, a colon in conversation, emphasizing a concluding sentence, an explanation in parentheses, or indicating a collection of grouped ideas.