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Using Correct Apostrophes

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Using Correct Apostrophes.

As you have learned in other WordTips, Word includes a feature that automatically converts straight quote marks to smart quotes—the type that pretty well match those used by professional typesetters. While this is great in most instances, it can be annoying when typing some types of words. For instance, you may want to type terms such as "the '80s" or "the '90s." Proper typography dictates that the apostrophes just before the numbers should curve down and to the left, but Word shows them as curving up and to the right. (The Word way would be fine if you were using the apostrophes to start out a full word or phrase.)

So how do you get the apostrophe to point in the proper direction? Granted, you could use the Symbol option from the Insert menu, or you could remember an arcane Alt sequence on the keypad, but there is an easier way. Type a character—any character—before you type the apostrophe. This fools Word into producing an apostrophe pointing in the proper direction. Now you can go back and delete the extraneous character. Word leaves the proper apostrophe and you can continue typing as desired.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (486) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Using Correct Apostrophes.

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Comments for this tip:

Connor    09 Dec 2014, 20:59
Thanks! Tricking Word worked for me.
Malcolm    03 Jun 2013, 09:44
Sorree! I hit Page Down and missed the comments. Suzanne's is even quicker. I'll be using it in future!
Malcolm    03 Jun 2013, 09:41
It's quicker to type 2019 followed by ALT-x.
P.G. van Dijk    18 May 2013, 10:59
SSB's method has the advantage that you can do it with the fingers of one hand.

Suzanne S. Barnhill    18 May 2013, 08:03
While this method certainly works, it is a needless kludge, as Word provides built-in keyboard shortcuts for opening and closing single quotes. The one for a closing single quote/apostrophe is Ctrl+','. That is, press the Ctrl key together with the apostrophe key, release, and then press the apostrophe key again.

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