Linkification, part II

~ 23 October 2008 ~

Simmy’s tweet yesterday exposed a scenario we all encounter:

What are the best practices for including or excluding punctuation within an anchor tag?

Here’s an example:

Blind accessibility consultant Aaron Cannon and co-worker Aaron Barker have authored “JavaScript and screen readers”.

Which of the following is the proper way to link up the article, and why?

A) Blind accessibility consultant Aaron Cannon and co-worker Aaron Barker have authored “JavaScript and screen readers”.

B) Blind accessibility consultant Aaron Cannon and co-worker Aaron Barker have authored “JavaScript and screen readers”.

C) Blind accessibility consultant Aaron Cannon and co-worker Aaron Barker have authored “JavaScript and screen readers”.

D) Blind accessibility consultant Aaron Cannon and co-worker Aaron Barker have authored “JavaScript and screen readers.”

E) Blind accessibility consultant Aaron Cannon and co-worker Aaron Barker have authored “JavaScript and screen readers.

F) Blind accessibility consultant Aaron Cannon and co-worker Aaron Barker have authored “JavaScript and screen readers.”

Study the differences closely, and then cast your vote (or suggest an alternative) with a supporting argument.



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1   Eli ~ 23 October 2008

It’s clearly F. It is grammatically AND semantically correct. The period has nothing to do with the link unless it is part of the link’s title.

2   kimblim ~ 23 October 2008

Personally I would go with option (G): Same as (E), but with the punctuation outside of the quotation marks. In my mind the link text should always be able to stand completely alone, ie.:
Blind accessibility consultant Aaron Cannon and co-worker Aaron Barker have authored “JavaScript and screen readers”.
To me, that is the most accesible way of doing it.

3   Phil Dokas ~ 23 October 2008

C for the same reasons as comment 1, however, the period is not part of the quote. Punctuation belongs within quotes if it’s part of the original quoted text. In this case, since the title of the authored work doesn’t itself include a period, it shouldn’t be in the quotation marks and it shouldn’t be linked.

4   Matt Jankowski ~ 23 October 2008

I vote “C” out of logical correctness, not grammar or accerssibility.

I say you want to quote the title for your reader and not the browser or google; you want to link to specifically the title for the browser and google; and in defiance of grammar you want to put the ending period outside the quotes not inside the quotes.

5   Renaud ~ 23 October 2008

I agree with Eli and vote F.

A,B & C have to be thrown out because their are not grammatically correct. And Eli’s argument for F makes sense.

6   Dan ~ 23 October 2008

I would go with ‘C)’.

a) the quotes are not relevant to the link, and…
b) the period closes the sentence, and so it should be outside the link, and outside the quotes, although I understand that this is considered a contentious point (pardon the pun).

7   Benji ~ 23 October 2008

I agree with Eli, (F) the link is only about the content nor the point or anything else. Would be like linking the space between words too, right?

8   Kyle Schaeffer ~ 23 October 2008

Gramatically speaking, the punctuation should ALWAYS appear inside of the quotation marks. That rules out options A, B, and C. I feel that unless the text inside an anchor link is a complete sentence, such as “Click here to visit my web site,” the period should not be included in the anchor link. In the examples above, the period is part of the sentence, but it has nothing to do with the anchor link, itself. For this reason, the winner is option F (in my opinion).

9   Dave McNally ~ 23 October 2008

I vote for C. The link itself is only there to provide more information on the title so there’s no need for the quotes to be within the link.

@Eli - F looks incorrect to me. I may be wrong but shouldn’t the period at the end come after the closing quote, actually being at the end?

The period has nothing to do with the link either and should remain outside of the link. C looks to be the best option from my point of view anyway.

10   Chauncey McAskill ~ 23 October 2008

Ditto on the F. Though I’ve always had a personal tendency to exclude periods (as well as exclamation and question marks) from quotation marks as illustrated in A,B,C.

11   Nathan Ziarek ~ 23 October 2008

There are two separate issues here.

1) What gets linked? In this case, the answer would have to be either C or F due to the semantic correctness (as Eli points out). You are linking to the book title, and that title does not contain quotes or a period, so neither should be part of the link.

2) Where does the period go? I am partial, visually, to F, but I think C is actually gramatically correct (although a quick Googling shows that might be up for debate). I think the same reason as my first point applies. You are putting quotes around the title of the book, and that book title does not include a period. What would you do if the book title were “Javascript and Screen Readers!”? You would put the sentence punctuation outside the quote, I think.

My verdict: C

12   Benji ~ 23 October 2008

And by (F) I Meant (C) sorry.

13   mwiik ~ 23 October 2008

While F is grammatically correct, I would prefer C. Why tie down future generations to pre-computation notions of grammatical correctness that result in continual nitpicking maintenance.

14   jason ~ 23 October 2008

C -

The period doesn’t belong inside the quotes because the quotes are referring to a title (shouldn’t it be in italics?), not a direct quote from a person or book.

Honestly though, why get wrapped around something that 99.99% of users won’t care about. I think you just have to be consistent.

15   Greg ~ 23 October 2008

What in the hell did option D ever do to all of you? Haters. Look at D, it’s symmetrical and otherwise perfect.

16   Chris ~ 23 October 2008

F is the only way to go. The period belongs inside the quotation marks, and neither need to be linked.

17   Ryan Brill ~ 23 October 2008

In the US, the correct punctuation would be to place the period inside the quotation marks, regardless of logic. I’ve never been a fan of this style, so I usually choose to adopt the British practice, which allows for commas and periods to be placed outside the quotation marks, when they are used to set apart key terms.

Also, I always avoid linking punctuation (the quotation marks or periods) if possible. So, I would choose option ‘C’.

18   Kyle ~ 23 October 2008


First of all, it’s correct grammar.
Second of all, the period has nothing to do with the quote besides the fact that it’s at the end of the sentence.

If the quote or period isn’t be present in another context, then they don’t belong in the quote when they are present.

19   Jeff Croft ~ 23 October 2008

I prefer F, though I’d consider D acceptable, too. E suffers from an inconsistent lack of symmetry. A, B, and C are undebatably incorrect: it’s a simple matter of proper grammar that the period would go inside the quotation marks.

20   Stephen ~ 23 October 2008

I vote C, but then I’m not American.

I believe D, E and F are incorrectly punctuated from a British English point of view.

I tend to wrap A tags as the nearest possible neighbour to their subject, and in this case I do not consider the quotes to be part of the subject. I may be wrong though.

21   Dan ~ 23 October 2008

Dear F-lovers.

As a coder (among other things), as I know some of you are also, it just seems like bad nesting to have the period inside the quotes.

And grammatically correct or otherwise, it just looks better outside the quotes.

22   Nathan Ziarek ~ 23 October 2008

For the record, I don’t think it is absolutely correct to place the period inside of the quote. I think it *looks* wrong on the outside, but I’ve yet to read anything that says it is wrong. Mostly it is about US vs British convention, with no formal rules dictating it.

Thinking about it logically, it should be on the outside. What is the title of my book were Stop. (with the period)? Then I’d want the quote to read “Stop.” If that happened at the end of the sentence, the title of my book is ambiguous at best. Most would assume the name is “Stop”

If you added the period after the quote, though, it loses ambiguity. My book is called “Stop.”. Looks silly, but makes perfect sense.

Still sticking with C…

23   Mark ~ 23 October 2008

As everyone has said so far, it’s C or F. As Stephen says above, if you’re not American then it’s got to be C and as I’m not American, that’s where my vote lies. (Though there are grammatical cases for having the period inside the quotation marks, in which case go with the F.)

24   Travis Fleck ~ 23 October 2008

Would have to agree with Jeff. My vote is for F.

25   Luca M. ~ 23 October 2008

I agree with Dan (#6) and vote C.

26   Nik ~ 23 October 2008

I would say ‘C’, but looking at the code I would also use “ and ” for the quotes.

27   Michael ~ 23 October 2008

C or F should be the only options on the table. The rest are messy.

That being said, the choice between C and F should be left entirely up to your interpretation of proper English grammar, which undoubtedly depends highly on your country of origin.

28   Stephen Caver ~ 23 October 2008

I prefer F, I don’t think the punctuation is part of the linked text.

29   Nate Klaiber ~ 23 October 2008

I am going to cast my vote with F - I don’t see the need for the other (punctuation) parts.

30   Jemaleddin ~ 23 October 2008

Wow - have none of you tried this in a screen-reader? D is the only answer that isn’t screwed up grammar-wise and doesn’t get read as something like (F): “…readers period quotation mark.”

Maybe my settings are off, but D is the way to go.

31   Tony ~ 23 October 2008

Just a note from a proofreader to say that the location of punctuation relative to quotation marks has nothing to do with grammar, but is a matter of style (or convention, if you will). In the U.S., style dictates that most punctuation usually falls inside of the quotation marks, though this is apparently an holdover from shortcomings in outdated printing processes.

Oh, and I vote for F.

32   Mae ~ 23 October 2008

It should be letter C, it’s referring to a title, if it’s a dialogue then the period should be within the quotation marks.

33   Abhay S. Kushwaha ~ 23 October 2008

(C) or (F) depending on which side of pond you did your schooling.

The quotation marks would be excluded because (a) they’re your text, not the name of the article quoted verbatim, and (b) they do not provide any semantic meaning to the link but to the body of your text by highlighting that what’s inside is special compared to the rest of the text.

For example, when was it last that you read the text in a book: John said, “Oh no!” as “John said comma opening quotation mark oh no exclamation mark closing quotation mark”?

34   Jeff Croft ~ 23 October 2008

Didn’t realize other english-speaking countries did this differently! Great to know! :)

35   Dirk Sidney Jansen ~ 23 October 2008

“Ryan (#17), I agree.”

It should be “C”.

36   Eric Sanabria ~ 23 October 2008

You’re all wrong. “B” is how it should be done, for 3 reasons.

1)The writing/article/book is being referenced by the statement which necessitates the quotation marks and makes them a part of the title and thus a part of the link. Not including them is gramatically incorrect.

2) Like others have mentioned the period goes outside of the quotation marks because it is not a part of the title or referenced work, it ends the sentence as a whole. So, it follows that it should not be included in the link.

3) It looks the best. Quotation marks are graphically cool. It took me two seconds to decide that was the one, before I even thought about why.


37   A.C. ~ 23 October 2008

The answer is F. Grammar rules dictate that the period goes inside the quotes and only the words should be linked.

38   Martin ~ 23 October 2008

My vote goes for C.

I didn’t realise the American rules for grammar on this were different, but IMHO (and as a Brit myself) I would say the British English rule is more aesthetically pleasing as well as being grammatically correct in the eyes of the nation for whom the language is named… ;-)

39   Kyle Schaeffer ~ 23 October 2008

The APA style guide is the most widely accepted grammar guide used in the English language (at least in the United States). This is what it has to say about the usage of double quotation marks (“):

“When a period or comma occurs with closing quotation marks, place the period or comma within the closing quotation mark.”

Punctuation should always appear inside the quotes. This has nothing to do with logic, architecture, visual simplicity or appeal; this has everything to do with simple grammar.

40   Bill I ~ 23 October 2008

I think C is the proper choice. Yes, in American it’s “proper” to put the period inside the quotes, but that’s not the practice elsewhere, and I personally think it’s confusing if the period isn’t part of the quote itself.

On top of that, none of the punctuation is really relevant to the link’s text, so I say don’t include it as part of the link.

41   Ethan ~ 23 October 2008

What Michael said in 27: namely, “C” and “F” are the most grammatically correct options, but it depends on which side of the pond you grew up on.

For those of us stateside, the convention is to put the end punctuation inside the quotes. Consider, for example, some nested dialogue:

“Last night a friend of mine quipped, ‘I’m not sure those pants go with those shoes,’” Frank recalled.

So if “those shoes” or “quipped” were links, I’d exclude the commas; so if “recalled” was a link, I’d do the same for the period.

42   tom (dB) ~ 23 October 2008

make mine a C please bob. Just because I like to be right.

43   J. Bradford ~ 23 October 2008

I would have gone with Eli and said F, but then I read Ryan’s comment about the British way. Since I often feel that American grammar sucks donkey tail (my own even more so), I’d have to change my choice to C, which seemed the most correct and “comfortable” at first glance anyway.

44   Dave Smay ~ 23 October 2008

I’m voting for “F.” To include the quotation marks and period as the linkable portion just feels incorrect.

45   Andy Hawkes ~ 23 October 2008

I’d go for C.

My reasons are the same as mentioned by other people - you are quoting the title of a publication, so the title should be linked rather than the entire quotation. The period (or full stop as we Brits would call it) should reside outside the quote as it terminates the sentence as a whole, including the quotation.

I’m not a copy writer though, so your mileage may vary…

P.S. If there’s any argument over grammar, the British version wins because it’s our language - it’s not called “American”, now is it? ;-)

Toodle pip, tally ho, and all that steretypical nonsense - I’m off to have the butler flogged for not ironing my copy of the Times crisply enough!

46   Jason ~ 23 October 2008

FWIW, I passed this on to my wife, who works as an editor, and she said “D”.

47   Jeff King ~ 23 October 2008

Clarity or convention?

While D-F may be grammatical convention, they are illogically so. The terminus to the sentence is independent of the quotation; as such, it should be moved outside the quotes.

Normally, I would link only the text internal to the quotes. But this is a title and the quotes are central to communicating this. In this case, linking the quotes is appropriate.

I would use option B.

48   David ~ 23 October 2008

Other countries may have different grammar or spelling rules, and that’s important information to know (especially when you’re building a site for a company in Vancouver and need to refer visitors to the “Call Centre”). However, Tony is wrong to say the placement of the period relative to quotation marks is a matter of convention rather than grammar. A, B, and C would all be marked as incorrect on a U.S. grammar test. A, B, and C are simply wrong in the States.

But what is grammar if not codified convention? In my own short life, I’ve seen the final comma separating list items go from mandatory to optional. For me, options A, B, and C (note my optional comma) make more sense since the quotation marks relate to the title rather than denoting dialogue. However, if I chose any of the three on the SAT, I’d lose points.

Language evolves. Someday A, B, or C may be “correct” in the States. But that day is not today.

49   Mark W ~ 23 October 2008

I would agree with my colleague Eli and go with F

Though depending on which style guide you consult, it could also be C.

Semantically, the quotation marks and the termination of the sentence are not related to the link itself, and should not be linked. The termination of the sentence has no impact on the link, and the quotation marks are merely a means of presenting the article title, much you would underline or italicize a book or movie title.

50   Raanan Avidor ~ 23 October 2008

I think C is the proper choice.

51   Mike D. ~ 23 October 2008

Definitely B or C… probably C. I hate the American way of including punctuation inside the quotes. Also, wouldn’t the title of the book best be italicized instead of quoted?

52   Cole ~ 23 October 2008

My preference is for C - the hyperlink relates solely to the book title and not the context in which it is mentioned, so puntuation should be outside the hyperlink.

@Ryan et al. +1 for use of punctuation outside of quotations over the pond. Quoth Auntie Beeb:

Punctuation at the end of a sentence comes inside the quotation marks if the quote is a full sentence, but not otherwise

Source: BBC House Style and Writing Guidelines

53   Mike Robinson ~ 23 October 2008

C, for the same reasons as Cole stated.

54   Trevor Davis ~ 23 October 2008

@Mike D. (#51)
I agree with you on B or C, and think the book should be italicized as well. I also hate including the punctuation inside the quotes.

Also does it really matter if it is grammatically correct or not? Are people reading it on your site going to think less of you because of how you have your punctuation? Would they even notice? Clearly there is some disagreement on these comments about what is correct.

55   Sam Daams ~ 23 October 2008

I can’t believe everyone saying d,e,f are gramatically correct, because it’s clearly the other way around. If this depends on your version of English, then the oldest version clearly wins, so we have to go with British :) It actually makes totally no sense to include the period inside the quote IMO. The period ends the sentence. I’ve never heard anyone say “and that’s that *quotation mark*”. There’s a reason these sayings exist. Would we even have this discussion if that was a question mark instead of a period? That would look way off.

So d,e,f are out.

I’d go with C just because it’s likely to cause the fewest problems if copied/scraped.

56   Steve Wanless ~ 23 October 2008


57   Jason Landry ~ 23 October 2008

Regarding the question of where the period should go, I find it odd that people are suggesting that one is grammatically correct and the other is not. Different conventions exist in different places and under different circumstances. So, rather than arguing about which option is correct, just pick one and stick with it.

58   marcus ~ 23 October 2008

I’m with jason, the title of the article should be in italics. If you’re going to use quotes, the period goes outside the quotes for the title. For my money, I’m choosing B though, because the quotes help set it off as a link to the title of a short work.

59   philip ~ 23 October 2008

I agree with the others about F. The period should be enclosed in the quotes, and the link should focus on the item of interest (the text), not the surrounding punctuation.

60   Jemaleddin ~ 23 October 2008

This is blowing my mind. Even with the words “screen readers” in the examples, people aren’t considering what happens when screen readers encounter the text. Has accessibility gone completely out of vogue? Can you call yourself a designer nowadays without giving a second thought to accessibility?

61   philip ~ 23 October 2008

This link explains the ‘period’ situation (Yank versus Brit) pretty well.

I think it really comes down to how you spell 50% black: is it gray or grey? :)

62   Tony ~ 23 October 2008

Both the placement of punctuation with regard to quotation marks and the use (or omission) of serial commas are style matters, not matters of grammar. (The word punctuation doesn’t even occur in the dictionary definition of “grammar” or on the Wikipedia page on English grammar.) Perhaps it is not an important distinction, but people are getting so hung up on what is “right” and the word grammar caries an aura of authority with it.

63   ruadhan ~ 23 October 2008

C gets my vote. Logically correct, and (if you’re not following US English grammar rules) grammatically correct also.

64   bowerbird ~ 23 October 2008

whatever you decide,
i’m sure it will be fine.

let’s worry about stuff
that’s more important.

thanks for your time.


65   Lance Hildebrand ~ 23 October 2008

According to American standard rules, it has to be F. In other countries, such as England, it would have to be C.

This is a touchy subject. Logically, the old English standard (which would be C), is the correct rule to go by since the punctuation is not part of the quote. However, the American standard is designed for readability and flow (since the “. is a lot more jarring to read then the .” which “flows” nicer to the eye).

Now, if the link was the actual address, it would have to be C since the period would be confusing in a URL.

One thing is for sure, punctuation, unless part of the actual link text, should never be a part of the link (again the standard since punctuation is only a vehicle for readability, and not actual content).

66   Kevin Crawford ~ 23 October 2008

F! Although the period inside the quotes, when it’s not in the original quoted text, bothers me. Still, I must bow to the grammar gods…

67   Mike ~ 23 October 2008

My vote is “C”.

This seems to be more of a logical AND grammar issue.

68   Jason Campbell ~ 23 October 2008

Having been born in rural North Carolina English is of course a second language to me so I cannot speak to the grammatical correctness of any of the suggestions.

Visually I prefer D.

But it’s all moot anyway right, I mean the links aren’t blue so it’s not like any of them could be right could they.


69   ~ 23 October 2008

The reasons have already been said but to add my vote it - I would go with C. The grammar rules that would make F correct are only applicable to US English where the full stop is applied inside the quote as matter of convention. In British and International English punctuation is applied logically on a case by case and as the full stop is not part of the quote should be outside of it.

70   Cameron Moll ~ 23 October 2008

I think it really comes down to how you spell 50% black: is it gray or grey? :)

I spell it both ways. :)

71   Cameron Moll ~ 23 October 2008

Also @ philip, the trouble I have with a sentence like this (from the page you’ve linked to):

To get to the next page, just press the little button marked “Enter.”

…is that the button is NOT labled Enter. is it?

I think there’s appropriate bending of proper (US) grammatical rules when the situation warrants it.

72   Jeremy ~ 23 October 2008

I like C. Even though I’m in the US I never thought the punctuation inside the quotes looked right.

73   Jake ~ 23 October 2008

I am going with “F”

74   Florian Wagner ~ 23 October 2008

I don’t mean to be all smarty-pants regarding the punctuation discussion, but I looked it up in the “Oxford Style Manual”, which says (p. 149):

“When the punctuation mark is not part of the quoted material, as in case of single words and phrases, place it outside the closing quotation mark.”

But also states:

“In US practice, commas and full points are set inside the closing quotation mark regardless of whether they are part of the quoted material.”

So both versions seem to be perfectly valid from a grammatical/style point of view. Personally, I would go for C).

75   Scott McDowell ~ 23 October 2008

I prefer C, but I always do F.

76   Kenneth ~ 23 October 2008

C if you are using a UK styleguide, F if you are using a US styleguide (regarding placement of commas and periods with quotation marks). The link should clearly encompass the actual title only.

77   Kenneth ~ 23 October 2008

Sorry to double comment, but after reading through all the previous comments, I feel (as an editor) that I should observe that as designers (or coders), you shouldn’t change the text itself in any way. (Just as editors should not change the design of a page or the code.)

As for the suggestion that as a title the phrase should be italicized, that would be true only for a book. If this is an article in a journal or periodical (or a blog post, in most styleguides I’ve seen), then the quotation marks are appropriate. If a designer decided to change it to italics, they would be changing the information conveyed by the text.

78   Sebastian Redl ~ 23 October 2008

I’m for B. I don’t know how screenreaders handle it. It just looks right to me. As far as punctuation goes, I’m all for logic and don’t give a damn about US customs. I include the quotes in the link because I feel they are part of the reference. It always looks weird to me when the quotes are a different color than the stuff they surround.

But if you do place the punctuation inside the quotes, you don’t want to include it in the link, so option F in that case.

79   Steve ~ 23 October 2008

I vote C as the link is only the title, the quotation marks are part of the sentence with the full stop as the end of the paragraph outside of the quotes

80   Anthea ~ 23 October 2008

Option C, no doubt about it.

The punctuation need not be included in the link.

81   Andrew Hedges ~ 23 October 2008

F. The grammar and the link should act independently of each other. The full stop inside the quotes is grammatically correct. Linking the words that constitute the title of the article is semantically correct.

82   bcrockett ~ 23 October 2008

F all the way.

Gramatically, the period always goes inside the quotes. Semantically, the period has nothing to do with the article and should not be included in the link.

83   Aaron ~ 23 October 2008

Clearly; it”s (F.)

84   Mediaroots Video Training ~ 23 October 2008

i would go with C.

but it’s actually a difference between American and British English.
C for Britain
F for America.

85   Bramme ~ 23 October 2008

Seen from a grammatical point of view, “Sentence with a “title of a book”.” is the most correct, if you want to link to the book/article, I do believe C is the most correct.

86   Jörg Butzer ~ 23 October 2008

Another vote for C.
Can’t think of another good argument for it, that hasn’t already been shared here. :)

87   Ty Hatch ~ 23 October 2008

C. Because it just makes sense to me. Even if F is more grammatically correct, C feels more comfortable.

88   Anthony Ettinger ~ 23 October 2008

Clearly “F”.

89   Jim Arment ~ 23 October 2008

C. Since the quotation is not a complete sentence, the comma goes after the quotation marks. And I don’t think think the quotation marks should a part of the anchor tag. I don’t really have any educated reasoning for that other than how I would do it.

90   Matt McVickar ~ 23 October 2008

Italicize it and remove the quotation marks. Done. Arguing about this is utterly fruitless, as Jason Landry (#57) pointed out.

91   Phillip WInn ~ 23 October 2008

Two different issues: one is punctuation, one is linking.

On punctuation, the period goes inside the quotes in the U.S., outside in the U.K., and I don’t know about elsewhere. So UKers should choose from among A, B, or C, while USers should choose from among D, E, or F.

As a USer: While I love the look of D, I think it is probably more semantically correct to go with F.

Were I a USer, I would love the look of B, but go with C.

92   c.libre ~ 23 October 2008

This is a great question that has vexed me from time to time. But it’s a markup question, not a grammar question. Punctuation placement is entirely a matter of style, which is to say that it’s entirely a matter of convention. Every option presented above uses syntactically correct English.

What we should be asking, then, is:
1) which option is the most attractive visually, and
2) which option is the most effective in terms of machine semantics?

I would choose F because:
1) I like the way it looks,
2) I think that any link text extracted from a page will look cleaner without quotation marks (plus the implicit semantics of link text is that of a title, making the quotes superfluous to a computer program), and
3) the interior period is appropriate for a U.S. publication.

93   Jared Smith ~ 23 October 2008

Typically links are read by screen readers out of context (tabbing or reading a list of links). In this case, JAWS (the most common screen reader) reads A and B as “Left Quote. JavaScript and screen readers. Right Quote.” It reads D as “Quote. JavaScript and screen readers. Right Quote.” And it reads C, E, and F as “JavaScript and screen readers.”

From a screen reader perspective, only D is read in a way that may be slightly confusing, but this is a JAWS quirk.

The Window Eyes screen reader reads all of them exactly the same.

In short, I don’t think it matters a wee bit. But as one that has done this exact thing many a time - I go with C.

94   John Faulds ~ 23 October 2008

All those voting for F say it’s because it’s grammatically correct, but it’s not. The full stop only goes inside the quote mark when the quote mark actually wraps around a quote - something that’s been said - which is not the case here.

I’d vote for C but really, I wouldn’t wrap the name of the book in quote marks anyway, I’d use <i> tags because it’s a well-established typographic practice to present titles in italics (but without any sense of the title being emphasised which is why you wouldn’t use <em>).

95   Luke Dorny ~ 23 October 2008

Fundamentally “C” and there is no counter-argument.

See? Isn’t that a simple “solution”…?

96   Lanny Heidbreder ~ 23 October 2008

The example and choices are not sufficient to answer the question, because quoted titles are far different creatures from quotations.

As it is, though, I prefer C if I’m writing with my own personal stylistic quirks, and D in all other American contexts. A or B is for formal English writing not in the US, and B or E are for people conflicted between their writing instincts and their programming instincts.

For anyone to expect to come to a unified answer on a question with so many factors is preposterous.

97   Lanny Heidbreder ~ 23 October 2008

Oh, and the answer to Simmy’s tweet, which this post overcomplicates: Treat hyperlinks the same as parentheticals. If you would include the period in the parentheses, include it in the link.

98   Daniel Craig Jallits ~ 23 October 2008

I would vote for either C or F. The placement of the period in relation to the last parentheses is personal preference. However, the link should just include the text sans punctuation and parentheses marks as this, I believe would be the best way for BOTS to index the link.

99   Alvaro Medina ~ 23 October 2008

Not native english speaker, but if rules apply for english as for spanish, I’d say B. The period is not part of the title of the link but of the phrase, so it should not be linked; on the contrary, the quotation marks are to mark a title, therefore are in context with the link.

100   patrick sesko ~ 23 October 2008

I would choose none of the above. Instead I would create an option G which is: I have no clue, so I will hire someone who does.

101   Jonathan Hollin ~ 23 October 2008

I would always go with D. It’s grammatically correct and doesn’t sound like a garbled mess when a screen reader “speaks” it.

102   Jonny Haynes ~ 24 October 2008

Right, let’s got!

The full stop should be outside the quotation marks, so that rules out D, E & F.

The full stop is not part of the link so that rules out A.

Now B or C, should the quotation marks be included in the link? I think visually no, but grammatically? I’m not sure.

Hmm, I think from personal preference I would go with B. I think they are part of what you’re linking to.


103   Martin Smith ~ 24 October 2008

As Jonny said: NOT D, E or F, as they are grammatically incorrect. As so many people seemed to disagree, and I like to be overly pedantic, I checked the Guardian style guide, which says:

“Place full points and commas inside the quotes for a complete quoted sentence; otherwise the point comes outside.”

So, down to the first 3. I rule A out, as the full stop is not part of the section being linked.

I think you could pick B or C really. B is, I think, more semantically correct, as the entire book title in enclosed in quotes and is being linked, but I’d say that C just plain looks better.

In this case, I can’t see any practical advantage to being semantically correct (in terms of SEO or user agent support and understanding of quote marks), so the better looking on gets it…

C it is.

104   Martin Smith ~ 24 October 2008

Ah well. having read the comments more thoroughly, I now realise that you yanks do things differently to us Brits, so linking to a British newspaper’s style guide isn’t going to convince many people…

So the correct answer depends which on country you’re in… Of course if your audience is international, you should use the internationally accepted version. I have no idea what that is. I suspect its the British version, but who knows. Probably depends if you’re Canadian or Indian!

Of course, some might say as we’re all speaking English, the English should get to define how these things work…

C again then!

(run away!)

105   Aleksandar ~ 24 October 2008

You’re linking to the book, so link should be the book name alone. Quotes and periods are not part of the book name.

106   ~ 24 October 2008

I don’t think that the punctuation should be included in the link, so that leaves C and F. As others have pointed out, grammatical correctness depends on which country’s rules you are following. So as an American, I should pick F, but I personally think C makes more sense.

107   Stephen T ~ 24 October 2008

I don’t think that the punctuation should be included in the link, so that leaves C and F. As others have pointed out, grammatical correctness depends on which country’s rules you are following. So as an American, I should pick F, but I personally think C makes more sense.

108   Jamie Wallace ~ 24 October 2008

F. Less is more, and right is right.

109   Adrian ~ 24 October 2008

I would choose “F.”

110   jphysics ~ 24 October 2008

F. Totally.

111   kirkaracha ~ 24 October 2008


The title is a blog post, which seems more analogous to a magazine article than it does to a book, so the title should be in quotes, not italics. (American English, and if it were a book title I’d use cite instead of italics.)

112   bryan ~ 24 October 2008

f. when searching you don’t include periods and with googles every changing algorithm…

113   Dave ~ 26 October 2008

for all the same reasons listed above.

114   Lasse Rintakumpu ~ 26 October 2008

It’s C (and I think arguments abound above).

115   Ian Lloyd ~ 27 October 2008

It has to be C. I’ve never even heard of the notion of putting the period inside a partial quotation. The period ends the whole sentence, in this example, not just the partial quote. Can’t see how F could make any logical sense at all.

116   Luis Chacon ~ 28 October 2008

I think it’s C.
A period closes a paragraph, so it doesn’t belong to the this link. Besides, I think we are interested in creating a link for the phrase, and the quotation marks are not part of it.

117   wintermute ~ 28 October 2008

I guess, semantically correct versions is C (at least, for Russian) and, probably, F (for English)

We don’t move period into the quotes.

118   Bart ~ 29 October 2008

C. I’ve always done it this way, and will continue to do so even if F is grammatically correct.

119   Rebecca Miller ~ 30 October 2008

It’s C, because as folks have wisely mentioned, the quoted phrase is a title, not an actual phrase at all. The period is not part of the title, so it should go outside the quotes. And the quotes aren’t part of the title, so they shouldn’t be part of the link. So I’m going with C, because the title should be the only thing that is linked, and the link should be the only thing inside the quotation marks.

120   David ~ 30 October 2008

Grammatically, the period should be inside the quotes. So for link structure, I’d have to go with F.

121   James ~ 30 October 2008


Why would it be anything else?

If you choose D, E or F, you’re not even finishing your own sentence!


122   Marlene ~ 30 October 2008

F is grammatically correct, and of course you shouldn’t link punctuation.

123   Jonathan Cutrell ~ 30 October 2008

Definitely F.

It is a common mistake to put punctuation outside of quotation marks.

That being said, the best way to do this would be to write around it; lucky thing for writers, you aren’t stuck writing yourself into a confusing corner.

Unfortunately, links are not covered by English grammar rules, so there is no “correct” way to do it. We don’t link when we talk; that being said, titles are no different as far as punctuation goes. The period isn’t part of the link because it isn’t part of the title, but in English, when you end with a quote, the punctuation at the end of the sentence is always inside the quotation marks.

124   Dave Child ~ 30 October 2008

F. Punctutation is often outside the quote marks for actual quotations.

125   David ~ 30 October 2008

Sorry for the double-post, but here’s a link describing the grammar rules involved:

126   Brett Peters ~ 30 October 2008

F, or modified F.

F is grammatically correct with the punctuation in the right order.

Modified F would be to use italics instead of quotation marks to indicate the book or article title. (If it is a book, the capitalization is odd.)

127   Joe Pemberton ~ 30 October 2008

(C) and (F) are best, because they link the title, not the punctuation. But where to put that period depends on whether you’re following American (C) or European (F) punctuation standards. Anyone got a Chicago style manual?

I prefer the European punctuation (F), which neatly tucks the period inside the quote mark. I’ve never liked the way American punctuation puts the period outside the quote.

128   Marco ~ 30 October 2008


129   Andrew Jaswa ~ 30 October 2008

+1 for “C”. Though if @Jemaleddin is correct D would be the correct solution. I don’t currently have access to a screen reader to test it out.

I think sometimes we get caught up in how things “should” be rather then how they work the best. This is a great example. We all understand (from a visual aspect) what that link is trying to convey, however, someone with a screen reader might not understand. So why are we quibbling about where the period goes or if the quotes are included in the link text or not? Why not test it out with a visually impaired person and see what works?

130   David Downing ~ 30 October 2008

I’m going with the big “C”.

131   Dave ~ 30 October 2008

You could have closed the comments after Eli’s #1.

It’s F.

132   Steve Leggat ~ 30 October 2008

I agree with Ian Lloyd so strike up another vote for C.

133   Jeff L ~ 30 October 2008


I’m under the hope that maybe, someday, the rules will change (we don’t need two spaces after a period anymore, do we?). But until that day, the grammatical rules (at least here in the US) dictate that the punctuation is only correct in instance “F”.

134   Mark ~ 30 October 2008

The answer is F.

135   AxsDeny ~ 30 October 2008

C & F are the only two that have any valid meaning.

That being said, most style guides say that the punctuation should fall within the quotation marks. So I’ll have to vote for F.

136   Shawn McBurnie ~ 30 October 2008

C or F for functionality and clarity. C appeals to coder logic, F to grammarista tendencies. Tomato, tomahto.

137   Jon Zuck ~ 30 October 2008

C is semi-British, F is American. It’s that simple. Although I’m an American, I find British-style punctuation much more logical regarding quotation marks… however, they would also use single quotes as the first level of quotation which is also more logical, since it reduces use of the SHIFT key.

I’m still hesitant to put punctuation outside of quotes in my own writing, though. Most of my readers (at least on my other sites) are neither Brits nor coders, and it just would look wrong with my Yankee spelling.

138   Jon Zuck ~ 30 October 2008

Although, really, the title should ideally be in a CITE tag instead of quotes.

139   Jeff Bridgforth ~ 30 October 2008

F It is not proper grammar to put the punctuation outside of the quotes. And I don’t think the punctuation needs to be part of the the linked text.

140   Warren Parsons ~ 30 October 2008


A, B and C are all ruled out:

Chicago Manual of Style 14th edition, 5.11 to 5.13 cover the placement of the period, and if it doesn’t cause confusion it should always be placed inside the quotes.

Of the remaining three, I think F looks the best, and agree that the period adds nothing useful to the link.

141   Jason ~ 30 October 2008

F, for reasons Warren states, and my own experiences.

142   Joe Clark ~ 30 October 2008

In American (also Canadian) English, you have to put period and comma inside quotation marks. So your question is inaccurate in the first place. Nonetheless, the answer is open-quote start link full title end link period close quote.

143   Jason Robb ~ 30 October 2008

F - because of reasons previously stated.

144   matijs ~ 30 October 2008

I have to go for C.

Not sure about the American English rules but IMHO F would need an extra period at the end to make it correct. Also the title of the book should end with the period that’s within the quotes, which I doubt will be the case. Hence C.

145   David Březina ~ 02 November 2008

C is logical to me as the period and quotes does not seem to be part of the title.

Nevertheless, is there really a need for the title being wrapped in quotes at all? It seems to me that both – the hyperlink and the quotes – do the same: emphasize what the title is. So, in case you have distinctive style for your links, I would not use quotes at all in order to simplify the punctuation.

146   Smaran ~ 02 November 2008

It’s clearly C. It can’t be F, because you don’t put a full stop before the close quotes when what’s being quoted aren’t a person’s words in the given context.

147   Hans E Hyttinen ~ 02 November 2008

B, for the same reasons as Eric Sanabria (#36).

It is not C or F because you are not quoting a link but linking to a quotation.

148   Rob ~ 03 November 2008

I vote: C


The fullstop - the fullstop is part of the entire sentence. So, the fullstop is used to show the end of the sentence.

The quotations - indicates an extraction from a separate piece of text.

The title - this is the only part that should be linked as it’s referencing their publication (and not the quotation extract)

149   kpetri ~ 03 November 2008

A complicated question.

The Chicago Manual of Style, APA and MLA Style manuals all agree that commas and periods go inside the quotation marks.

Though Chicago also says that, according to “the British style (set forth in The Oxford Guide to Style [the successor to Hart’s Rules), a style also followed in other English-speaking countries, only those punctuation points that appeared in the original material should be included within the quotation marks; all others follow the closing quotation marks. This system, which requires extreme authorial precision and occasional decisions by the editor or typesetter, works best with single quotation marks. (The British tend to use double quotation marks only for quotations within quotations.)”

So, D, E, and F follow the standards for punctuation in English, unless you need to follow the British Style, which tends to use single quote marks (and thereby diverges from typical usage on the web).

Screen readers differ in how they handle quotation marks. With default settings, NVDA will not read the quote marks, so all the examples sound identical.

Window-Eyes and JAWS will read the quotation marks, unless you set those screen readers to ignore all punctuation. So, C, E, and F do not sound right when the links are read in the context of the page: the quotation marks are read separately from the link. For example JAWS says: “… have authored left quote (pause) link JavaScript and screen readers (pause) right quote.”

To my ear, this pausing throws off comprehension, since I hear the left quote, then a pause before the quoted/linked text is read, and then another pause, and finally the lonely “right quote.”

When pulling up a list of links, JAWS and Window-Eyes read the quotes, thus helping signify that the resource is an article. A good thing.

The fact that there is a period included in the link text doesn’t matter to the screen reader—unless, again, the screen reader is set to read all punctuation.

Virtually no one I know does this, unless they are grammar checking a document or they are reading a specialized document where punctuation is totally essential to getting the proper meaning.

My vote goes for the distinctly unpopular D.

150   Jonathan Faustman ~ 03 November 2008

I think the answer is most definitely F.

151   David R ~ 05 November 2008

Personally, I choose “C”.

152   Chris Platts ~ 06 November 2008

As a British English speaker, reader and writer, my vote is definitely for ‘C’. I can understand the American English readers’ discomfort with putting the punctuation outside of the quotation marks, but this is a citation not a quotation, and the punctuation is not part of the title. But forget the pedantry, I could live with ‘F’! Or should that be ‘F!’

153   Chris Platts ~ 06 November 2008

As a British English speaker, reader and writer, my vote is definitely for ‘C’. I can understand the American English readers’ discomfort with putting the punctuation outside of the quotation marks, but this is a citation not a quotation, and the punctuation is not part of the title. But forget the pedantry, I could live with ‘F’! Or should that be ‘F!’

154   Aaron Cannon ~ 06 November 2008

Even though my favorite style guide (The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition) says that I’m probably wrong, I like C. First off, as a screen reader user, the difference between all of the options is so minor as to be insignificant. Nevertheless, having the quotes outside of the link means that Jaws has less to say when reading the link, so in that small way, C, E, and F are better. I personally use C when I link, because it feels more syntactically correct. Using F makes me feel as though my sentence was left incomplete.

155   fogfish ~ 07 November 2008

I always do F. It’s grammatically correct and the referred quotation is clearly linked.

156   Pedro ~ 10 November 2008

I am going with C as to me it looks better and going with the Brits and their rule that you can have the punctuation outside the quotes.


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