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Old 08-02-2010, 08:54 AM   #1
ghostyjack
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Correct formatting of punctuation

I may be able to speak English (seeing as it's my native tongue), but when it comes to writing it down I can never figure out the correct way of formatting punctuation in documents.

My main issue is with italic or emphasised text. Do I include it within the <i></i>/<em></em> tags or leave it outside of them.

Are there also any cases where it doesn't matter.

Also I have books in British English as well as American English, so if you are able to provide any info for this, please and you state for which language it's for.
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:45 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by ghostyjack View Post
I may be able to speak English (seeing as it's my native tongue), but when it comes to writing it down I can never figure out the correct way of formatting punctuation in documents.

My main issue is with italic or emphasised text. Do I include it within the <i></i>/<em></em> tags or leave it outside of them.

Are there also any cases where it doesn't matter.

Also I have books in British English as well as American English, so if you are able to provide any info for this, please and you state for which language it's for.
I speak American English, but the following should also apply to British English. When it comes to formatting with HTML, I treat a punctuation mark as part of the word that it is next to. As an example, with a period at the end of a sentence, I'd put the closing tag after the period rather than between the sentence's last word and the period.

I hope this helps.
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Old 08-02-2010, 12:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostyjack View Post
My main issue is with italic or emphasised text. Do I include it within the <i></i>/<em></em> tags or leave it outside of them.
I'm am not a native English speaker or reader, so take this with a grain of salt. It seems to me that whether or not to include punctuation in the formatting of a previous word is a matter of the publisher's/printer's style, and it changes with time too. Personally, I'm more scientific-minded, and don't like the punctuation being in the style of the word, unless it belongs there (as, for instance, a period that ends an abbreviaton), and from the coding point of view I think it makes more sense. But then, I also don't like punctuation being inside quote marks, although it's ubiquitous in English dialogues.

Most important is: be consistent.
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Old 08-15-2010, 09:46 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Solitaire1 View Post
I speak American English, but the following should also apply to British English. When it comes to formatting with HTML, I treat a punctuation mark as part of the word that it is next to.
I speak Australian English, Solitaire1, and I'd say the exact opposite.

I know Microsoft Word operates the way you've advocated here, so that punctuation at the end of a word - and even the space following that punctuation - is included in any attribute applied to that word (like italicising), even when the punctuation actually belongs to the phrase or clause and not just to that word. To my (subjective) way of thinking, this makes a document look rather scrappy - when the last word of direct speech is italicised, for instance, you end up with:
"I told you to shut the door," she said.
rather than
"I told you to shut the door," she said.
To me, the latter is definitely preferable, in reading sense but even more so in appearance.

(I use WordPerfect for documents, which allows the word to be selected independent of the punctuation when applying styles or attributes. Though that's not the specific reason I use it - it's simply a better word-processor than MS Word - it does add to its appeal for me.)

I wonder if it's a US English thing? I know in US English the punctuation also goes inside what they call quote marks, even when it's not part of the phrase quoted, so maybe the punctuation being bolded or italicised is an extension of the same approach.
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:02 AM   #5
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With italics, I always include any immediately-following punctuation in the italics. The reason for that is that you can end up with odd spacing if you don't. I also think that, for example, "Help!" looks better than "Help!".

For other styling - bold, underline, etc - I don't apply the style to the punctuation.

Last edited by HarryT; 08-15-2010 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 08-16-2010, 08:04 AM   #6
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Thanks guys.

It does sound like there is no definitive form for any variant of English, looks like I'll just have to experiment and find which looks most comfortable to look at for me and stick with that.

I'd hoped there was a standard way of doing this (at least for GB & US English) so I could reformat my books to correctly match the used language.
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Old 08-16-2010, 09:30 AM   #7
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G'day ghostyjack,
Here's what The Oxford Manual of Style from Oxford University Press has to say:

Quote:
All internal punctuation within an italic phrase, sentence, or longer extract is set in italic, including colons between titles and subtitles, and exclamation or question marks that form part of the quoted matter.

Punctuation not belonging to the italic matter is not set in italic, including opening and closing quotation marks that precede or follow italics, and commas or semicolons that separate italicised words or phrases.
OK, that's the British position. (And Australian, incidentally. I know you didn't ask about us, but I thought I'd throw it in there anyway. The AGPS Style Manual essentially agrees with the Oxford mob.)

So, what about the US?

It's an interesting situation. The Chicago Manual of Style used to say this:

Quote:
Generally, punctuation marks are printed in the same style or font of type as the word, letter, character, or symbol immediately preceding them.
So, by that rule "What are you saying?!" might be given emphatic stress like this:

Quote:
"What are you saying?!"
The question mark and exclamation mark would be italicised (which I think makes sense), but so would the closing set of inverted commas (which is what I was referring to in my earlier post when I said it looked scrappy).

Ahh, but it doesn't rest there. In the most recent (15th) edition of the Chicago Manual, it says:

Quote:
All punctuation marks should appear in the same font -- roman or italic -- as the main or surrounding text, except for punctuation that belongs to a title or an exclamation in a different font. This departure from Chicago's [sic] former usage serves both simplicity and logic. For an alternative system, see 6.5.
That's section 6.3. In the referred section 6.5, it says

Quote:
According to a more traditional system, periods, commas, colons, and semicolons should appear in the same font as the word, letter, character, or symbol immediately preceding them if different from that of the main or surrounding text. In the first example in 6.3, the first two commas and the semicolon would be italic. Question marks and exclamation points, however, should appear in the same font as the immediately preceding word only if they belong to a title or an exclamation (see examples in 6.3).

So unfortunately, ghostyjack, there's not consensus, but if you go by the latest issue of the Chicago manual, and ignore section 6.5, it's close.

Myself, I tend to use the system that makes sense to me (in my case, the Oxford approach), and leave it to others to cope with it varying from what they expected. Otherwise, you'll be perpetually second-guessing yourself and turning yourself inside out, and you're still always going to be "wrong" with somebody.

Last edited by MacEachaidh; 08-16-2010 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 08-16-2010, 09:59 AM   #8
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Thank you - that's very interesting. It's good to know that I follow the "Oxford" convention.
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:30 AM   #9
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Thanks MacEachaidh, that is a great help.

I didn't fully get what you said earlier, but now I do.

I've not got any Australian English books yet but if I do, I know what style to apply.

I always like to apply the formatting intended by the author and not read any localised version as I feel this can alter what the author originally intended and ruin the scene/atmosphere.

This may seem like a petty thing compared to actual word changes in localisation (i.e "car park" in GB and "parking lot" in US), but that's how my mind works.

Last edited by ghostyjack; 08-16-2010 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
With italics, I always include any immediately-following punctuation in the italics.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Thank you - that's very interesting. It's good to know that I follow the "Oxford" convention.
Not if the "always" in the first quote is really "always"

As far as I understand it, the "Oxford" convention is also what I like, using bold red for clarity:

"What are you saying?!" (The question, exclamation and quote do not belong to the bold red part, which is just an emphasis on the word "saying")

I heard a faint Help! from inside. (The exclamation belongs to bold red, because it's the whole sentence with its punctuation being emphasized or "quoted")
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:55 AM   #11
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O.k. now as frequently in books a name of a vessel is given in italics (i.e. HMS Warspite), is you use it in a context referring to it, such as using Warspite's, which of the below would be correct?

Warspite's - Whole of it is italised.

Warspite's - only Warspite is italised.

I think it's the second of the two, but I could be wrong.
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:05 AM   #12
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I'd say the second as well.

If you look in the quote I added from the Chicago Manual, that seems to be what the CMS advocates as well (ie Chicago's). The reason I put [sic] after it was to indicate that it was an accurate quoting - their formatting, not mine.
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Old 08-16-2010, 01:36 PM   #13
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The second of the two. Since such names might include an apostrophe-s as part of the name, it's clearer if you don't italicise the punctuation when it's added as a grammatical function within the sentence.
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