Patrick M wrote:http://essayinfo.com/sguides/dash.php
http://www.personal.psu.edu/staff/r/a/r ... on%20Marks
I'm assuming you have at least some interest in this, so let me share some of the info I found on the net.
All of the sites I looked at parroted these same rules (commas and periods always inside quotation marks, semi-colons and colons outside) but an explanation as to why was never given. I even found a somewhat ridiculous mention (by way of explanation) of "weak" punctuation vs "strong" punctuation.
Since my education goes back way beyond the existence of word processing software, I'm accustomed to go with my instincts - if it looks OK, it is OK, if it looks wrong, check it. I've done enough reading that my instincts are usually correct. However, putting periods and commas inside quotation marks has never looked right to me (even though I've seen it that way thousands of times). I guess that somewhere along the line I started thinking that my way of doing it was an accepted alternative, which I now know to be incorrect thinking.
I did find one interesting little tidbit of info, which helped to explain a lot for me (bold mine):
Should punctuation go inside or outside quotation marks?
Punctuation should always be included inside punctuation marks if it is actually part of a direct quote. When punctuation is not included in a direct quote, it is still usually placed inside the quotation marks. (During the typeset era, periods and commas always were placed inside the quotation mark instead of outside, to protect the character. If a period were placed outside the mark, it would generally have a space character on the other side, leaving the period in a large open space. Since the typeset characters were very delicate, an "exposed" period or comma could easily be damaged, so all these punctuation marks were instead placed in the "protected" position next to the last character of the previous word.)
http://www.epinions.com/user-review-446 ... 1F16-prod3
So it appears that this grammar rule was started by a bunch of typesetters (who knows how long ago), and I'd be willing to bet that, at the time, it was considered wrong. But practicality won out, and over the years wrong became right.
Being a very "contrary" person, I am tempted to continue with my incorrect usage. However, if I am questioned/corrected, I now have some defensive ammunition to fire back.
As far as your dash/hyphen rule, I was aware of it. Microsoft Word does put in a dash, but I don't know of a way to create a dash using the software that this forum uses. Do you know of one?