Quotation Mark Problems

Every now and then I run into a press release on a website that has some gibberish where an apostrophe or quotation mark should be. The cause of this problem is that HTML, the computer language used for the Web, doesn’t recognize curly apostrophes or “sexed quotes.” The ASCII computer language also suffers from this problem if you don’t turn off the “smart quotes” feature in Word. Note how this last sentence has the curly kind (both single and double), while the sentence before that has the straight kind.

How do you turn off smart quotes in Microsoft Word?

On the Tools menu, click AutoCorrect Options, and then click the “AutoFormat As You Type” tab. Under “Replace as you type,” either select or clear the “Straight quotes with smart quotes” check box. Then do Replace All with ‘ both upstairs and downstairs, and do another Replace All with ” both upstairs and downstairs. And voilà, they are all changed in your document.

To create curly apostrophes ( ’ ) in HTML instead of the straight foot mark ( ‘ ), use the following codes:

  • A left double quote is “
  • A right double quote is ”
  • A left single quote is ‘
  • A right single quote is ’

Another smart quotes problem arises when an apostrophe appears at the beginning of a word and is automatically curled the wrong way.

Examples:

Back in the ’70s  (the old geezer anecdote equivalent of “Once upon a time…”)

Gig ’em!  (the Texas A&M University slogan)

The way to solve this problem in Microsoft Word is:

Hold the CTRL key down while pressing the apostrophe key twice. POOF! Curly.

I wish curling my hair were that easy….

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