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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On Gremlins, Curly Quotes and Straights

I've decided to do a series of quick editing tips on this blog including the kind you can get your computer to help you with. I do a lot of this kind of thing in little shout-out boxes in The Frugal Editor (, but I thought it would be a good reminder here, too. 

Here's the first:

When you're editing material that will appear online, use straight quotes and apostrophes. When you're editing material to go in print, use curly quotes and apostrophes. It's easy to tell the difference. The curly ones really are curly and look like the ones you probably knew when you were a kid--unless, maybe, you're under 25. (-:

It's easy to make your Word program do this automatically. You toggle back and forward between them by going to File>Options>Autocorrect Options>Autoformat and then click on the box that moves instructions for curly to straight or back again. Don't forget to click OK once you've made the change.

There's a good reason for using the straight ones online. The computer gremlins often take curly quotes and turn them into a series of gibberish or wing-dingy things.  That makes your copy hard to read, for sure, and you may not even be aware it's happened. Gremlins are sneaky guys, for sure.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

1 comment:

Mindy Lawrence said...

Ah, the joy of having Carolyn as a teacher! She lets me play with her Newsletter and teaches me how to play with it better.

If you have some words and punctuation going askew, I'll be happy to help out.

Mindy Phillips Lawrence
MPL Creative Resources

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