Smart quotes are the bane of online writers. If you have never heard of them and have already tried your hand at submitting writing for online publication, you are probably already closely acquainted with them without even knowing it. If you are fortunate enough to learn of this issue early on it will not present much of a problem as it is an easy formatting fix. If however, you have already written tons of smart quote infested text you are hoping to upload onto the web, things can get a bit more complicated.
So what are Smart Quotes?
In short, smart quotes or “curly quotes” are the default quotation marks and apostrophes that Microsoft Word uses. Instead of using standard straight quotes, or “dumb quotes”, Word automatically reformats them and turns them into the curly nuisances we speak of here.
If you do not fix this issue before you upload your nice, new, shiny article to the internet, it will not look the way you wrote it. Most likely what will happen is that every instance where an apostrophe or quotation marks are used will be turned into a question mark or some other unsightly character. The result will be a very unprofessional, unfinished looking article and a very frustrated writer.
How to Get Rid of Smart Quotes
Thankfully this is an extremely easy fix. If you are using Microsoft Office 2007 here are the steps:
1) Click on the Office button in the upper left hand corner of your screen. Scroll down to Word Options (at the bottom of the box). Click it. Scroll down to the “proofing” selection in the new window that just opened up, click it.
2) Now, click on Autocorrect Options. A new window will open up. Browse the tabs at the top of the box and click on AutoFormat. You will see the word “replace” with six check boxes below it. The first one is the one you want. It should say “straight quotes” with “smart quotes”. Uncheck this box. If you like you can also uncheck the rest of the boxes save the last one titled “internet and network paths with hyperlinks” to further uncomplicated any internet formatting issues that you may experience.
3) You are almost done. Go back up to the tabs at the top of the box and click on the one that says AutoFormat As You Type. Now simply do the exact same thing you did in step 2 unchecking all of the same boxes here.
What if I Already Have Articles Written with Smart Quotes?
If you have already written text using Microsoft Word with the smart quote option on I will tell you what I did. There may be an easier way to do this but this seemed the easiest way to me. I simply used the find feature (just hold ctrl and hit F) in Word to find all of the apostrophes in my article, then all of the quotation marks. This way the program will bring you to each one, one at a time, and you can deal with them as they come. This will save you the trouble of scouring through your articles by hand trying to pick out every last apostrophe.
That is about all there is to say about smart quotes and what to do about them. I just hope you were able to find this information before smart quotes were able to cause you too much trouble. That’s all for now!