Did you know that there are two different styles of quotes? That’s right: straight quotes and curly—also known as smart—quotes. 

Straight quotes originated with typewriters. Before them, all quotation marks were curly. As space was a premium for typewriters, by replacing the curly quotation marks with the straight quotation marks, two slots became available for other characters. This is because, for the curly quotation marks, four keys were needed; only two were needed for the straight quotation marks.

Curly quotation marks are the preferred choice. They look more like the other characters and are more legible than their straight counterparts. In fact, Microsoft Word has a setting to make quotation marks curly by default. 

When editing, I often find a mix of straight and curly quotes. This can happen if you copy and paste into Word from a web page or your setting may have been changed at some point.

To change straight quotes to curly quotes in Word on a PC:

  1. On the File tab, click Options
  2. Click Proofing, and then click AutoCorrect Options
  3. In the AutoCorrect dialog box, do the following:
    • Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab, and under Replace as you type, select the “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” checkbox. 
    • Click the AutoFormat tab, and under Replace, select the “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” checkbox.
  4. Click OK
  5. Do a “Find and Replace.”
    • Under Find, type a single quotation mark (‘)
    • Under Replace, type a single quotation mark (‘)
    • Click Replace All.
    • Repeat the above steps with a double quotation mark (“).   

After you do this, all the quotes should now be curly (smart) quotes. One way to check is to make your font Times New Roman and then look at the quotes.

To make sure your quotation marks will be curly quotes in Office 365:

  1. Go to the Review tab.
  2. Click Spelling & Grammar.
  3. Select AutoCorrect Options.
  4. Under AutoFormat, make sure the “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” checkbox is checked.

Unfortunately, I’ve found the find and replace trick that works in Microsoft Word on the PC does not always work in Office 365. When I tried it, it changed everything to straight quotes. If I figure out how to do it, I’ll update this post.

If you’d like to simply type the ALT code to make sure you have the curly quotation mark you want, see the table below. (Holding down the ALT key, type the number.)

Quotation Mark Visual Windows Command
Opening single quote ALT 0145
Closing single quote ALT 0146
Opening double quote ALT 0147
Closing double quote ALT 0148

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