What About Curly Quotes vs. Straight Quotes? Does it really matter if you use straight quotes (“)?
Curly quotes (“ ”), also known as “smart quotes” are used in good typography. Straight quotes are plain ASCII characters and are not confusing to web browsers and email servers.
In Microsoft, straight quotes can be changed to curly (or ‘smart’ quotes) automatically. If you use the free Open Document Text or Google Sheets programs, the quotation marks are straight. Many other word processing programs do the same thing.
Does it matter which you use? Only if you want to publish a digital book. KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) requires curly or ‘smart’ quotes. Turn on this feature in your Microsoft Word program to automatically turn your straight quotes into curly quotes.
- Go to File/Options/Proofing.
- Click on the “AutoCorrect Options” button.
- From the drop-down menu, select the AutoFormat tab.
- Check the box under “Replace” for “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes.”
What? You already have a whole manuscript full of straight quotes? No worries. You don’t have to search through the whole thing and replace them all (like I once did).
Sometimes you learn there’s a better and easier way. Perform a find and replace to change all of them at once!
- Go to your document and find a straight quote.
- Copy it by highlighting it, and pressing Ctrl C (or right click/copy).
- Press Ctrl H to get the find and replace tool.
- Paste the straight quote in the “search” field with Ctrl V (or right click/paste).
- In the replace field, simply type a quotation mark. (You can also copy/paste a curly quote if you’re not sure it will work).
- Click on “Replace all” and see how fine it works!
It can be confusing to know where to use quotation marks. Writers are familiar with using quotes for sentences but what about thoughts? What about words with another meaning? This is simply a question of style, and what country you live in. The British do it opposite of Americans. Single or double quotation marks denote either speech or quotation. Neither style—single or double—is an absolute rule, although double quotation marks are preferred in the United States. (grammargirl.com)
A few general rules:
- For quotes within quotes—“Why did she call the man a ‘traitor’?”
- For ‘scare quotes’ —terms used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense. Quotation marks used around a word or phrase when they are not required, thereby eliciting attention or doubts.
“Putting the term ‘global warming’ in scare quotes serves to subtly cast doubt on the reality of such a phenomenon.”
- If you have a scare quote at the end of a quotation, you use all three quotations: “I told you he was ‘snarky.’”
4. In much specialist writing, including linguistics, philosophy, and theology, terms with particular meanings that are unique to that subject are often enclosed in single quotation marks: The inner margins of a book are called the ‘gutter.’
- You do not need opening and closing quotation marks to punctuate material set off from the main text as a block quotation.
- Thoughts do not need quotations. You ‘may’ use italics if desired.
- Punctuation ALWAYS GOES INSIDE the quotation.
- The main thing is to keep them consistent throughout the manuscript.
What About Curly Quotes vs. Straight Quotes?
In Microsoft, straight quotes are changed to curly (or ‘smart’ quotes). Does it matter which you use? Only if you want to publish a digital book. KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) requires curly or ‘smart’ quotes. Learn how to turn on this feature in your Microsoft Word program. Perform a find and replace to change all of them at once!