The British may not be able to spell words correctly (it’s color , old chap, not colour ) but I think they get it mostly right when it comes to punctuation. For instance, the American style places commas and periods inside quotation marks, except in situations when it could cause confusion (such as the quotation of web addresses). But we wouldn’t have such problems if we simply adopted the more sensible British style of putting quotation marks inside other punctuation marks.
At Slate , Ben Yagoda observes that the British method dominates on the Internet and considers the reasons why:
Why has this convention become so popular? I offer two reasons, one small and one big. The small one is a byproduct of working with computers, and writing computer code. In these endeavors, one is often instructed to “input” a string of characters, and sometimes (in the printed instructions) the characters are enclosed in quotation marks. Sticking a period or comma in front of the closing quotation marks could clearly have bad consequences. So, for example, the Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition), which otherwise endorses the American way “This is a traditional style, in use well before the first edition of this manual (1906)”makes an exception in the case of computer instruction, illustrated by:
name your file “appendix A, v. 10”.
But the main reason is that the British way simply makes more sense. Indeed, since at least since the 1960s a common designation for that style has been “logical punctuation.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to persuade my fellow First Things editors to allow us to adopt this more logical approach.