Word tip: Turning smart quotes off

Office365_Dec02_AAs a business manager or owner there will be times when you need to create written content. When this is needed, regardless of what it is for, most people will turn to Microsoft Word to help draft ideas. However, while Word is powerful, it does have some idiosyncrasies. The most annoying one being the hidden formatting which won’t copy over to other software e.g., the Web. One such example is Word’s use of smart quotes.

Here is an overview of smart quotes and how you can turn them on or off in Word 2013 and Word 2010.

What are smart quotes?

With the advent of the computer, printer and Internet, there are really two uses for the word processor: For documents that will be used online e.g., Web page copy, and for documents that will be printed e.g., books and brochures.

When we are taught to write, we are always taught to use a curly comma or quotation marks to indicate when a quote begins and finishes. These are commonly found in books and most material that is created with specific typography to make it look more visually appealing. Many professionals call these curly quotes and commas ‘smart quotes’.

They are great at helping make documents easier to read. However, when the engineers who developed the keyboard for computers were writing the code, they used straight or ‘dumb quotes’ – presumably because they were easier to code. These quotes are the marks you normally see to indicate measurements like feet and inches. This decision means many technical systems, like websites and browsers, may not be able read smart quotes and will render them wrong – usually as showing something like $#8217 instead of the actual quotation mark.

So, if you are creating content for the Web it is a good idea to use straight quotes. By default, Word has smart quotes enabled, but you can turn them off. Here’s how.

How to turn off smart quotes in both Word 2010 and 2013:

  1. Open a Word document and click on File followed by Options.
  2. Select Proofing from the left pane.
  3. Click on AutoCorrect Options… followed by the AutoFormat tab in the window that pops up.
  4. Un-tick the box beside “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” which can be found under Replace.
  5. Click on the Autoformat As you Type tab in the same window and un-tick the box beside “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” which is located under Replace as you type.
  6. Click Ok.

If you are looking to learn more about Word and how you can get more out of it, please contact us today to see how we can help.

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