(1) Periods and commas always belong inside quotation marks.
WRONG: The definition of "negligent" is "failing to exercise the care expected of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances".(2) Question marks and exclamation points can be inside or outside quotation marks, depending on the logic of the question or exclamation.
CORRECT: The definition of "meticulous" is "marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details."
EXAMPLE 1: I looked at her incredulously and asked, "Are you an idiot?"(3) Colons and semi-colons belong outside quotation marks.
EXAMPLE 2: What is the meaning of the phrase "stupid is as stupid does"?
EXAMPLE 3: She screamed, "Yes! I am an idiot!"
EXAMPLE 4: She really loves Britney Spears' "Gimme More"!
EXAMPLE 1: I think she is a "C U Next Tuesday"; my friends agree.(4) When quoting materials with errors, insert the word "sic" in brackets after the error. Sic is Latin for "so" or "thus," and inserting it after an error in a direct quote informs your reader that the error is not your own and is simply a reprinting of the original material.
EXAMPLE 2: Here is the key to "grammatical success": follow these rules.
EXAMPLE: Kim e-mailed me to tell me that she loves "mixing orange juice and champaigne [sic] to make mermosas [sic]."xoxo,