Sunday, September 15, 2013

Writer Tip: Smart Quotes

As many of you know, I'm both a writer and an editor. As an editor, one of the things I'm going to start doing more of is sharing "tips" for my fellow writers. Because I often find that just one little tip can make a writer's job so much easier. 

As a writer (or editor) have you ever noticed how when you go back in and edit your writing, sometimes you'll get a quotation mark that is a completely straight line instead of having the normal "curve" of the text you're typing in? It's quite annoying, and I've never noticed having a problem with this until recently. But now, in both books I read and manuscripts I edit, I see this "problem" happening which tells me that other authors either haven't noticed it themselves, or don't know how to fix it, so they don't bother. 

In the past, I've been simply copying and pasting the "correct" quotation mark into manuscripts, which as you know, can be time consuming and bothersome. 

Well, there's an easy solution for Word users. And it's called smart quotes. For some of you writers, you may be rolling your eyes and saying, "Uh, duh. Every writer/editor knows how to change this already." But they don't, which is why I'm sharing this tip to make other writer's lives easier!

So, here's how to change straight quotes to smart quotes in Word:
  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image in the upper left corner of an open Word document. Then click Word Options at the very bottom. 
  2. Click Proofing and then then click AutoCorrect Options.
  3. In the AutoCorrect dialog box, do the following:
    • Click the Autoformat As You Type tab.
    • Under Replace as you type, select (or clear, if you don't want smart quotes) the "Straight quotes" with “smart quotes” check box.
    • Click the Okay button at the bottom of the open screen to accept the changes.
Viola! It's that easy to make the change and not be bothered with those pesky straight quotes any longer!

Please let me know if this tip was useful for you and if you'd like to see more general editing tips and tricks on this blog. I have some great easy "tricks" I'd like to share (like knowing when to use who vs. that, and who vs. whom).

I  like to hear from my readers, so let me hear your thoughts!
Have a happy, productive writing or editing day! 

~ The Grammar Babe


  1. Awesome tip!
    I had this issue and had to google it to find out how to fix it with my Mac a while back. Your trick is so simple that we cannot mess it up lol

    1. I was so embarrassed that I didn't already know how to do this, but I don't ever remember it being an issue in older versions of Word. I am a much happier editor now though, I can tell you that! =)