If an abbreviation ending in a period (such as etc. or a.m.) appears in quotation marks at the end of a sentence, don’t place another period after the closing quotation mark. Use just one period, not two.
- Correct: She said, “I bake cakes, cookies, etc.”
Incorrect: She said, “I bake cakes, cookies, etc.”.
Incorrect: She said, “I bake cakes, cookies, etc..”
The period after the abbreviation suffices to mark the end of the sentence.
- They reported that her wild urban garden “attracts bees, butterflies, birds, etc.”
- She said, “I hate waking up before 11 a.m.”
- He replied, “Let’s meet at 6 p.m.”
- She said, “Our research is built on a study by Dash et al.”
- The guide states, “Use a comma to introduce examples after e.g.”
In British style, periods are often omitted from such lowercase abbreviations (etc and am instead of etc. and a.m.). The period (or full stop) then goes inside if it punctuates the quoted text but outside if it is meant to end the surrounding sentence. British style also prefers single over double quotation marks.
British: She said, ‘My wild garden attracts butterflies, bees, etc.’
Comma after abbreviation in quotes
Commas always go inside quotation marks in American style. This rule applies even when the quoted text ends in an abbreviation ending in a period.
- She said, “I grew this garden for birds, bees, etc.,” but really, it’s for the entire planet.
- She said, “Let’s meet at 6 a.m.,” which I think is a little early for a meeting.
- “It’s 2 p.m.,” he said.
- Those “birds, bees, etc.,” which cannot survive on your manicured lawns, keep our planet alive.
- She clearly said “6 a.m.,” which is odd.
Other punctuation after abbreviation in quotes
Other punctuation marks after an abbreviation like etc. in quotes follow the general rule: Place punctuation such as a question mark or an exclamation point before a closing quotation mark if it is meant to punctuate the quoted text. If it punctuates the surrounding sentence, place it after the closing quotation mark.
- She yelled, “It’s 2 a.m.!”
- She asked, “Is it 2 a.m.?”
- This email says “2 a.m.”! Who schedules a meeting for 2 a.m.?
- Are you sure it said “2 a.m.”?
Also read about the use of periods after etc. and other such abbreviations in parentheses.