Levels of Distractibility: Who cares? = *. Some people will be distracted from your meaning: = **. Many people will be distracted from your meaning: = ***.
Question: Okay. Periods and commas ALWAYS inside closing quotation marks. Semicolons and colons ALWAYS outside closing quotation marks. What about question marks and exclamation points?
Answer: Here's where it gets tricky. Question marks and exclamation points are placed inside closing quotation marks if the entire sentence is a quote and outside the closing quotation marks if the quotation is only part of the sentence.
"Are you going to stand there all day?" Quotation is a complete sentence. Inside.
I believe that the very best short story I ever read was "Most Dangerous Game"! Quotation PART of the sentence. Outside. Try putting the quote in the middle of the sentence to see more clearly that the exclamation point is outside the quotation marks: I believe "Most Dangerous Game" is the best short story I ever read!
The British and the Canadians do this with every mark of punctuation--I think. I don't know about the semicolons and the colons. But in America, punctuate as Americans do. Commas and periods INSIDE closing quotation marks. Semicolons and colons OUTSIDE closing quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation points INSIDE when the entire sentence is a quote. OUTSIDE when the quotation is only part of the sentence.
Rating of Distraction: ***. It's the American way! Ta Da!