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Quotes: Are Yours Straight or Smart?
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Quotes: Are Yours Straight or Smart?
by Antoinette Franks, CET

Are your quotes and apostrophes "straight"? If not, they should be. As youngsters, we're all taught to make that nice little circle at the top or bottom of our quotes and apostrophes. They look nice and elegantly placed with a slight curve to them in the appropriate direction. And that format even carries over into the documents you type. The apostrophe has a slant to it, and your quotation marks curve ever so appropriately. In the transcription industry, elegance does not get you extra points in your transcript. In fact, we veer away from using that very format. Why is that?


In this industry, second, I suspect only to the word "verbatim", we have uniformity. Uniformity applies to both in many aspects, from as general as industrywide to as specifically as the nuances within your own personal documents. And yes, your quotes and apostrophes do fall into this category. If you have ever taken a close look at your documents or have typed in any other font, your transcription documents have a look to them that your regular documents do not. And that look is yes, that it is uniform. Every letter takes up exactly the same amount of space on a page. Things line up beautifully because of it. Your masterpiece is just very easy on the reader's eye and can be read effortlessly.


This is why we use straight quotes as opposed to "smart", why we use the straight apostrophe as opposed to slanted. The smart quote and slanted apostrophe both cause the same issue. They knock the alignment off in your documents. How? That's easy. They take up slightly more space on a line than the rest of the characters in your document will. Everything to the right of that apostrophe or quotation mark is shifted slightly to the right. Now it does not seem like it would be a big deal. But when you are typing thousands of words and your document is uniform everywhere else, the difference will literally jump out at you on a page. Something just looks "off".


Your smart quotes can easily be fixed. You simply go into your proofing options and turn smart quotes off. But there is no easy way to fight against the slanted apostrophe. So here is what you can do. If you find that there are a few in your document, copy the slanted apostrophe. Copy it into your find option, and then copy and paste straight apostrophe into your replace option. Like magic, once you hit replace all, they are corrected, and all is well in your transcription world again. So if you have not already checked, make sure your little friends are straight not smart. Your document, as well as your reader, will thank you for it.

Antoinette Franks is an AAERT Certified Electronic Transcriber. She can be reached at



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