|straight single quote|
|straight double quote|
|opening single quote||alt 0145||option + ]|
|closing single quote||alt 0146||option + shift + ]|
|opening double quote||alt 0147||option + [|
|closing double quote||alt 0148||option + shift + [|
Straight quotes are a typewriter habit. In traditional printing, all quotation marks were curly. But typewriter character sets were limited by mechanical constraints and physical space. By replacing the curly opening and closing quotes with ambidextrous straight quotes, two slots became available for other characters.
Word processors are not limited in this way. You can always get curly quotes. Compared to straight quotes, curly quotes are more legible on the page and match the other characters better. Therefore, straight quotes should never, ever appear in your documents.
Fortunately, avoiding straight quotes is easy: use your word processor’s smart-quote feature, which will substitute curly quotes automatically. Smart quotes are typically turned on by default.
Smart-quote substitution has been built into word processors for 20 years. That’s why straight quotes are one of the most grievous and inept typographic errors.
So why do I keep seeing straight quotes in legal documents?
When you paste or import text with straight quotes in it —for instance, a deposition transcript or email— your word processor may not always convert the straight quotes properly. Fix them.
Use the search-and-replace function to search for all instances of the straight single quote (
') and replace it with the same character—a straight single quote ( ').
Use the search-and-replace function to search for all instances of the straight double quote (
") and replace it with the same character—a straight double quote ( ").
Before you say
Straight quotes are acceptable in emails. It’s hard to see the difference between straight and curly quotes at small screen sizes.
Some documents from online research services have double quotes made of two single quotes (
) or two grave accents ( ' ' ``). (The grave accent, also sometimes called a backtick, is that character above the tab key you’ve never used.) These can be fixed by adapting the search-and-replace technique described above.
Don’t use quotation marks for emphasis. Use bold or italic.