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'Punctuation required with quotes' in Microsoft Word

‘Punctuation required with quotes’ is the most commonly changed Microsoft Word grammar and style setting. It checks is for the location of commas etc. when used with a quotation. Here’s two similar sentences to demonstrate:

In US usage, the sentence punctuation mark go inside the quotation marks.

In standard British /Commonwealth usage, the comma is outside the quote.

Word lets you set whichever you prefer (or none) then warn of any transgressions.

Two other common Word punctuation settings ‘Oxford Comma‘ and ‘spaces between sentences‘.

Double Quotes

Microsoft 365, Word 2021, 2019 & 2016 for Windows & Mac this style check works for both “double quote” and ‘single quote’ marks.  That’s a change from earlier versions of Office.

Word 2013 and previous, the feature only worked for “double quote” marks.  If you’re using ‘single quotes’, Word won’t check the punctuation location.

Global Setting

The setting for ‘Punctuation required with quotes’ is a Word global setting. It applies to all documents opened in Word.

There’s no way to change the setting at the document, style or paragraph level.

For most people that’s not a problem. However, some might have clients or specifications for different documents. Anyone with trans-Atlantic dealings could be in this situation. In that situation has to change the Word setting manually each time.

Word 365, Word 2021/2019/2016

In Word 365, Word 2021/2019/2016 (Windows or Mac) look for a red dotted line under the offending punctuation.  Right-click for options.

.” (or alternative) – fix the punctuation.

Ignore Once – will leave this spacing unchanged.

Don’t check for this issue – changes the sentence spacing for ALL documents, not just the current document. The global Word setting is returned to ‘Don’t Check’. This isn’t made clear at all.

Options for ‘Punctuation Conventions’ – takes you to the Grammar & more settings.

“Punctuation required with quotes” options

Three choices for “Punctuation required with quotes” …

  • don’t check
  • Inside – ensure the comma is inside the quotes – “US style”.
  • Outside – the comma goes outside the quote – “British/Commonwealth style”

Word 2013, Word 2010 and before …

In earlier versions of Word (also Word 2016 for non-subscribers) the look is a little different but the result is the almost same.

Only “double quotes” are covered by this setting.  ‘Single Quotes’ are ignored.

The blue squiggly line marks an incorrect punctuation.

Right-click on the blue line to see the options which aren’t very clear.

You’re forgiven for wondering what caused the blue squiggly line.

Click on the period/fullstop, question mark, exclamation to change the punctuation.

Ignore Once – will leave this spacing unchanged.

Grammar … – opens the Grammar settings

The settings are the same but a little more accessible.

Go to Options | Proofing | Writing Styles. Select ‘Grammar & Style’ then Settings.

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