Writing

Smart Quotes vs Straight Quotes

When typewriters were the technology of the day, quotation marks were simple, straight lines. In modern, traditional publishing, smart quotes, also known as curly quotes, are the norm.

As you may expect, curly quotes curl in toward the letters they are surrounding, with opening quotes curving to the right and closing quotes curving toward to the left.

Both straight quotes and curly quotes have options for either single or double marks, depending on how it is being used.

Using Smart Quotes in Atticus

If you import a manuscript that includes smart quotes, it will appear in Atticus to have smart quotes. The imported document will appear exactly how you had it structured in Word, as far as the quotation marks are concerned. However, if you type in Atticus, it will default to straight quotes.

If you are writing inside Atticus and would like to convert the straight quotes to curly quotes, you can either use the keyboard shortcuts to type in the proper marks, or you can covert each completed chapter to smart quotes by clicking the Apply Smart Quotes button in the main toolbar.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Cheat sheet graphic showing keyboard shortcuts or alt codes for single and double quotation marks as applied using either a PC or Mac computer.

Apply Smart Quotes

If you prefer to convert all the quotation marks in your book, a complete chapter at a time, you click the Apply Smart Quotes icon from the main Atticus writing toolbar.

Screenshot showing the Apply Smart Quotes icon in the Atticus Toolbar

Once you click the icon from the toolbar, you’ll get the following popup:

Popup in Atticus that says: 
Are you sure you wish to apply smart quotes to your chapter?
This action will replace all existing quotation marks and apostrophes with curly quotes and apostrophes.
Curly quotes are applied using an advanced algorithm. No curly quote algorithm is perfect and some quotes may still need to be corrected on an individual basis. After the curly quotes have been applied you can manually adjust quotation marks by using keyboard shortcuts.
This action is irreversible.

As author’s you will always have creative license to use abbreviations and dialects that are unique to your characters or settings, but may not be entirely grammatically correct. For this reason, no algorithm can ever be perfect and ensure each and every quotation mark curls in the direction you intend.

Atticus is programmed to convert not only grammatically correct usage of quotations, but also many common use abbreviations, such as ’cause or ’em. If the algorithm doesn’t work perfectly in your unique book, you can adjust or correct manually after smart quotes have been applied.

Check Your Work

Not only can you automatically apply smart quotes to your chapters, you can also easily see where you may need to check or adjust the quotations in your book. Atticus has a consistency checker next to the smart quote icon in the main toolbar.

When you click on the icon, Atticus will show you which chapters of your book are using smart quotes, straight quotes, or a mix of both.

Duplicate Your Book

If you’re curious how the new quotations feature will work in your book, there’s an easy way to experiment without affecting your original manuscript in Atticus.

Return to your Home dashboard, click the three dots beside the title of your book, and choose Duplicate. Any changes made to the duplicated version of your book will not affect the original. You can apply smart quotes or any other features you’ve been itching to play with and not worry about having to change everything back if you don’t love it.

When you’re completely satisfied, you can delete the version you no longer want.

Final Thoughts

You will need to use the Apply Smart Quotes feature one chapter at a time, and once it’s applied, any further changes made to that chapter will have to be refreshed. We recommend doing all your editing and saving the quotation updates for the last step of your formatting process.

Again, it’s always a great idea to duplicate your book if you’re ever unsure how a feature will affect your layout.

We hope you enjoy this new feature in Atticus and, as always, wish you happy formatting!

Last Updated: 06/07/2022

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