Curly Straight

So it’ll be easy to find, next time…

Microsoft Word automatically changes straight quotation marks ( ‘ or ” ) to curly (smart, or typographer’s) quotes as you type. You might not want curly quotes in some cases, for example, if you’re using quotation marks to designate feet and inches. To turn this feature on or off:

  1. On the Tools menu, click AutoCorrect, and then click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.
  2. Under Replace as you type, select or clear the “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” check box.

Note: You can find and replace all instances of single or double curly quotes with straight quotes in your document. To do this, clear the “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” check box on the AutoFormat As You Type tab. On the Edit menu, click Replace. In both the Find what and Replace with boxes, type ‘ or “, and then click Find Next or Replace All.


  1. Eric TF Bat says:

    Whenever I set up a new Windows box (which I do a lot lately thanks to VMWare, which lets me do a lot of web testing on my home box) there are a few settings I go in and change immediately. The smart quotes in Word is one of them (we hates it, we does, my precious). Some others:
    Automatic spellcheck and (ugh!) grammar check with squiggly underlines. Do you honestly expect me to take grammatical advice from the nation that gave us George W Bush and Friends? Really! My English teachers would turn in their graves (in some cases because I buried them alive, but I digress).
    The option in Explorer to hide filename extensions (Tools | Folder Options | View): switch it off. It’s an abomination.
    The menu-hiding “feature” in the Start bar (right-click the taskbar | Properties | General | Use Personalized [sic] Menus): switch it off. If I installed something, I want to use it, even if Bill thinks I didn’t mean it.
    Hiding the underline on menus (right-click anywhere on desktop | Properties | Effects | Hide keyboard navigation…): switch it off. Stupid bloody idea.
    All the animation, except “Show window contents while dragging”, which is actually useful (various): switch them off. Why would I want to slow my processor down, hmmm?
    After that, all I have to do is install TweakUI to fix things like the oversized arrow on shortcut icons and the delay when I click on a submenu (I set it to 100% so that menus “stick” instead of closing when my hand slips), and then I begin to be happy.

  2. dusoft says:

    You are right with the hiding menus – I hate it – I have been used to see everything, so I excatly remeber the position of many functions (or even programs in Start menu) – now I am always confused as where the things went. It’s so user-unfriendly and inaccessible.

  3. Very good point Erin, then again Microsoft have a mind of their own. Only this morning I had a comment on my blog where I had written about ‘Microsoft releases 4 critical security patches‘ – wouldn’t you expect their own products to be supported with xP. Well you obviously thought wrong, didnt you?

  4. Nick Finck says:

    I have been using typographer’s quotes and so forth in articles at Digital Web Magazine for a while now. It’s amazing how much more readable content is when you use proper typography. Here’s to typesetting in a digital age.

  5. Scot Hacker says:

    I run content management systems out of Movable Type and have lots of people pasting content into them from Word. The curly quotes — as well as em dashes and other “special” characters cause no end of headache when translated to the web. Now add the element of people posting from different browsers on different platforms, the form fields of each of which handle the extended characters differently. I’ve had to install filters and plugins and wrestle and sweat to deal with this. The final solution was to change the document encoding on all of our blogs to UTF-8, which seems the best technique so far. I’d love to train everyone to turn smart quotes etc. off but it’s just not feasible – there are more of them than there are of me.

  6. I’m with both Scot and Nick on this one. I love the way typographer’s quotes look, yet at the same time I’ve been plagued in the past when trying to deal with cutting and pasting content through a web-based CMS.
    I do love John Gruber’s SmartyPants plugin for Movable Type. The more systems that have this, the better.

  7. Smartquotes are nice, and really add a certain context to the content, or so I feel. You can determine opening or closing quotes in multilevel quotes – though the only place I’ve seen this is my Bible.
    To me, the trouble of it all is worth it when I see a gorgeus rendering of it all in my favourite browser and platform.

  8. Tony says:

    There is a much simpler solution. Press undo. For the quotations, or any one of the other myriad things Word does because it thinks it knows better than you, press undo directly after it does it. Guess what, it un does it ! If I press Ctrl-Z directly after the ” as I type in word, my curly quotes turn back into straight quotes.
    As an aside, I agree with all of the first poster’s comments, and emphatically I may add, except one. The “personalized” menus are a feature I disdain inside programs, but for my start menu I enjoy it. There are a large number of menu items I just don’t want to see. So many programs which install their icon plus a dozen “help” or “readme” or web page links scattered along my start menu. I find it is usually too restrictive (takes away too many things) but overall makes it cleaner.

  9. It’s good to see others are interested in being typographically correct. Here are a few helpful keystrokes that will work in any program. On the PC, use the number pad when entering the PC Keystroke.

    Character: Single Left Quote ()
    Mac: Option-]
    Windows: Alt-0145
    HTML: &amp#8216;

    Character: Single Right Quote ()
    Mac: Shift-Option-]
    Windows: Alt-0146
    HTML: &amp#8217;

    Character: Double Left ()
    Mac: Option-[
    Windows: Alt-0147
    HTML: &amp#8220;

    Character: Double Right Quote ()
    Mac: Shift-Option-[
    Windows: Alt-0148
    HTML: &amp#8221;

    Character: En Dash ()
    Mac: Option-Hyphen
    Windows: Alt-0150
    HTML: &amp#8211;

    Character: Em Dash ()
    Mac: Option-Shift-Hyphen
    Windows: Alt-0151
    HTML: &amp#8212;

    If you are interested in learning more or would like to look up similar keystrokes for other useful characters, Window’s users should refer to their Character Map.

    Go to Start // Programs // Accessories // System Tools // Character Map. Click on Advanced View. Make sure Unicode is selected as the Character Set. Use Group By to select just Latin characters, or in this case, Punctuation. Select a character and notice that its PC Keystroke appears in the bottom right-hand corner.