Matthew van Eerde's web log
I am a Software Development Engineer in Test working for the Windows Sound team. You can contact me via email: mateer at microsoft dot com
Disclaimer: I don't work on the Office team.
Word has a smart quotes feature where it will automagically transform
straight "double quotes," 'single quotes,' and greengrocer's apostrophes
curly “double quotes,” ‘single quotes,’ and greengrocer’s apostrophes
as you type. You send a Unicode Character 'APOSTROPHE' (U+0027) to Word, and Word turns it into a Unicode Character 'LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK' (U+2018) or a Unicode Character 'RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK' (U+2019) as appropriate. If you type it at the beginning of a word, it's an opening-single-quote; if you type it in the middle of a word, it's an apostrophe; if you type it at the end, it's either an apostrophe or a closing-single-quote, but both are the same character, so it doesn't matter.
The apostrophe is occasionally used at the beginning of a word, to mark elided letters. Word has trouble with this.
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimbol in the wabe.
I want to give the Word folks credit here. A common use of an apostrophe at the beginning of a word is to abbreviate a year. Word gets this right (I'm using Word 2010 with default settings:)
Check it out: a ’57 Chevy!
But Word also gets it wrong when you want to single-quote a clause that begins with a number:
singing ’99 bottles of beer on the wall’.”
Also, if you pluralize the date, Word gets suckered:
’10 models on sale! Check out the new ‘11s!
Little nifties, from the ‘50s, innocent and sweet;Sexy ladies from the ‘80s, who are indiscreet -- 42nd Street
For those times when Word gets it wrong, here's how to fix it.
If you want to type a word that starts with an apostrophe:
If you want to use an opening single quote with a sentence that starts with a number:
That "Undo" tip is actually a fairly powerful curative against all sorts of Word voodoo.
Long live LaTeX!
TIL that the "little nifties from the fifties" (and the "sexy ladies from the eighties") are not from a particular decade (1850s?) but from a set of streets (50-59). Therefore there is no apostrophe necessary.
You can type a left-facing apostrophe in Word by holding CTRL+apostrophe, then just the apostrophe a second time.