Tweed Editing's BlogTips, Strategies, and Updates for Academic Writers
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You know how sometimes you see quotation marks and apostrophes that turn toward the text they’re associated with—and sometimes they’re just straight up and down, almost like hatch marks?
The former kind go by many names: directional quotation marks, smart quotes, curly quotes, or typographer’s quotation marks. And they’re much more pleasing to the reading eye than straight quotes are.
So what happens if you find that your manuscript is inconsistent in its style of quotation marks? Some are smart—brilliant, even—and others are just poor, unidirectional excuses for inverted commas. The inconsistency could drive you batty.
There’s actually a pretty quick way to fix this in one fell swoop or two, at least if you use Microsoft Word.
I’ve talked about using find-and-replace operations before. Enforcing consistent use of directional quotation marks (and apostrophes!) means we’ll revisit those functions.
CLARIFICATION: Now, you could put quotation marks (“) or an apostrophe (‘) in both the find and replace fields and run a fast replace-all operation for each. This would work, but it will replace every quotation mark and apostrophe, even the ones that are already smart and already facing the right direction. For the most part, that works, but because Microsoft Word isn’t a mind reader, it will make, for instance, every apostrophe or opening quotation marks after an em dash (—) face left. In my experience, we usually want those to open toward the right, and usually these are already correctly oriented if we have employed smart quotes for the most part. The slightly more technical solution below will help when you have both smart and straight quotes in a single document because it won’t change what’s already working for you. The more changes we make, the higher chance of introducing new errors, which we always want to avoid.
Luckily, you can specify that Word find straight quotes and apostrophes, leaving the already-smart quotation marks untouched. ^034 is the code for (straight) double quotation marks, and ^039 is the code for a (straight) single quotation mark, or apostrophe. How do you put this information to use?
First, make sure that you have Word set to automatically format any newly entered quotation marks as smart quotes. These options are usually available under Tools > AutoCorrect (choose the AutoFormat as You Type tab):
Make sure that the option to change straight quotation marks to smart ones is checked. Close this dialogue box to apply the settings.
Place your cursor at the start of your document. Then open the find-and-replace function—I usually go to the edit menu at the top of my screen and select Replace, which appears under the menu item called Find.
Then use the codes for straight quotation marks that I gave you above. The code goes in the Find field and the corresponding punctuation mark (single or double quotation marks) goes in the Replace field. Then hit replace all. Or, if you have more time, go through and replace them one by one to make sure that everything goes as intended.
You’ll have to do this twice, once for single quotation marks and once for double.
Once you’ve done both replacement operations, your document should consistently use directional quotation marks and apostrophes. Congratulations!
Where might you run into problems? Well, if any of your quotation marks or apostrophes have exraneous spaces before or after them, the computer might guess the wrong direction. For example, Timothy ‘s (instead of Timothy’s) will end up with a right-facing single quotation mark instead of the correct, left-facing apostrophe. Because of the inadvertent space, the computer will think that ‘s starts a new quotation rather than adds a possessive to the preceding name.
And then there’s the problem of quotation marks coming immediately after em dashes (—). Microsoft Word tends to think that the dash ends a quotation rather than introduces one. So you may get a closing quotation mark (left facing) when you really want an opening quotation mark (right facing). If you do do a replace-all with the quotation-mark codes, you can easily follow up with a search for —” and make sure that all those quotation marks are facing correctly.
So it’s not a foolproof method, but it’s pretty effective. Because they’re so powerful, find-and-replace operations (especially global, replace-all maneuvers) require caution. Practice safe text!
NOTE: I should say that in some cases you won’t want typographer’s quotation marks and apostrophes in the first place. Text for the web, for example, may be better off with unidirectional (straight) quotes. You don’t want to get too fancy when dealing with simple, unformatted text. And some publishers will want straight quotation marks and apostrophes—but you shouldn’t really worry about that. Publishers will be used to doing global find-and-replace operations to reverse any marks that are too darn smart.
Mine is the only name on the business license, but the people who make Tweed what it is are those who share their words with me before releasing them into the wild.
To my clients, my colleagues, my supporters, and my friends I offer my sincerest thanks.
Much more could be said, but an editor strives for concision.
November 28, 2013
I’m delighted to announce that the Text and Academic Authors Association has invited me to present a webinar aimed specifically at scholarly authors who want to elevate their writing so that their projects garner the attention they deserve:
Pushing Your Writing, Raising Your Profile
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
4 p.m. ET
Acquisitions editors, peer reviewers, dissertation committees, and the general reading public are all looking for scholarly writing that is strong both argumentatively and stylistically. To give your scholarship the edge it deserves, you need to push it further on those two fronts. Perhaps your prose is weighed down by unnecessary scare quotes or isn’t guided by an overarching sense of what’s at stake, for instance. In this one-hour webinar, an academic editor identifies missteps that are all too common in ineffective scholarly writing and helps you locate opportunities to push your work to the next level.
After my presentation on ways to push a manuscript argumentatively and stylistically, participants will have the opportunity to pick my brain and receive advice tailored to their concerns. So bring your questions!
The webinar is free for members and $25 for nonmembers. If you don’t already belong to TAA, I urge you to consider membership—not because I earn any kind of commission but because it gives you access not just to my webinar but to dozens of archived webinars and podcasts. Besides, first-time membership is just $15—less than the cost of my presentation alone.
Need more information? Here’s more about my philosophy of pushing writing to achieve more. And as always, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to chatting with you on September 17, if not before.
The good folks at the Pedant, Claremont’s student newsletter, recently interviewed me about how make writing more pleasurable and routine (yes, both).
The issue is out, and I see that they’ve quoted me using un accent circonflexe—I feel so fancy! Other tips come from esteemed professors, a New York Times contributor, a writing-center professional, and procrastination experts. The takeaway is in the last sentence: “Writing may not always be heavenly, but it also need not be hell.”
Thanks to Pedant editor Rachel Tie for inviting my participation.
It’s all very happenstance, but a series of events led to UPPERCASE magazine devoting a two-page spread to me and my work with Tweed. UPPERCASE is “a magazine for the creative and curious.” While its focus is not academics, scholarship fits that tagline pretty perfectly, wouldn’t you say?
The piece’s headline, “Lady Luck,” reflects the curious circumstances that led them to feature me. (I won a lifetime subscription, totally by chance.) But the deck—in academic parlance, we might call it a subtitle—really gives me a kick: “Academic Editor by Day, Word Scout by Night.” With or without the thematic sash I made, I guess “Word Scout” must henceforth be my superhero name.
(Any ideas for a catchphrase? “Forget cookie time, it’s book-y time”? “Be prepared . . . with reams of reading material”? “Wherever there’s print media, I’ll be there”? “Book this!”?)
Erin Bacon, the writer of the piece, quotes me sharing why I do what I do:
“It’s important to me that academic writing has at least the potential of engaging with broader culture. The field of my own research is scriptures and cultures, so I suppose it’s obvious that I have a fascination with the printed page and how humans create meaning through text.”
The good folks at UPPERCASE have given me a discount to share with you all: the code contributor17 will get you $10 off a subscription or renewal. Don’t think of this as you might a subscription to (now defunct) Newsweek or Us Weekly, where half the pages are advertisements from companies who have paid handsomely for your attention. No, this is like receiving a full-color, large-format book every three months. Stores throughout the United States and Canada stock UPPERCASE, too. (Nota bene, I have no financial stake in your purchases.)
If you get your hands on a print copy, you’ll find out what Tweed has to do with nasal swabs, which of my Word Scout badges is triply layered with meaning, and what I do with my own stacks of (non-UPPERCASE) magazines—it involves eviscerating them with pinking shears.
Here’s a preview of the current issue, which, I’m excited to note, is dedicated to stationery. I do love visually interesting print ephemera. (As a kid, I collected brochures and menus whose designs I liked.)
And here’s something you can do right away to inspire your creativity: visit the UPPERCASE blog, to which you can subscribe via RSS (that’s what I do).
Stay creative! Stay curious!