A Cure For Backwards Apostrophes in Word 07

I’m so proud of my discovery that I have to tell the world. I learned how to solve a Microsoft Word problem, no thanks to Word Help or online Q & A’s.

The marks at the left are straight quotes and a straight apostrophe or single quote mark, relics of the typewriter age. A straight apostrophe can never be backwards. But it’s not the mark you expect to see in professionally printed documents.

Microsoft Word Help and other online documents tell you how to change your straight quotes to curly quotes or “smart” quotes. Trouble is, smart quotes are not all that smart.

Sometimes the apostrophe, which is the same as the single quote key, comes out backwards.The backwards apostrophe will appear in contractions like years (graduate of ’12) or slang (get ’em!) if you’ve changed your preferences to smart (curly) quotes. Curly apostrophes will be fine in words like can’t, where the apostrophe is inside a word. But when it comes first, as in contractions of years or other slang usage, the curly quote will be backwards.

I’ve been frustrated by this, because though I’ve used Windows for several years, I used to work exclusive on Macs, and regularly used a keyboard shortcut to type curly quotes and correct, left-curling apostrophes.

Since Mac features seem to occur also in Windows, I engaged my finger-memory and pressed various control keys in combination with the quote/apostrophe key. And suddenly I found it.

You’ve read enough, so here’s the procedure. When typing an apostrophe that comes first in its word, press these keys: Control/FN/and hit the apostrophe key twice. To fix an existing backwards quote, select it, then press Control/FN and hit the apostrophe key twice.

On my HP laptop and my Toshiba laptop, the FN key is to the right of the Control (ctrl) key. On Dell and maybe other keyboards too, use the Windows key that’s to the right of the Ctrl key.

So there you go. Let me know if this procedure does/doesn’t work for you.

UPDATE, 8/7/2013: I now use Word 2013 on a Windows 8 computer, and the above technique does not work. But here’s something easy that does: when you need an apostrophe in front of a word (like class of ’68), type the apostrophe key twice. That will give you both right and left facing quote marks. Then delete the first one! Duh. 🙂

ULTIMATE UPDATE 10/18/2013: EASIEST of all, from the Insert Menu choose Symbol and the punctuation mark you need. Double Duh.




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4 responses to “A Cure For Backwards Apostrophes in Word 07

  1. This absolutely does work for me in Word, Carol. Thanks a bunch! No more copying and pasting to fix these little buggers for me!

    If only it worked on WordPress…

  2. Stephen Nelson

    Dunno if you care about this still, but I just set myself a new beautiful workaround using autocorrect. In autocorrect, I managed to have all years with a leading apostrophe autocorrect to the close quote/right apostrophe. This is very valuable for a document using lots of abbreviated years! First, in the REPLACE box, I put ‘1? . The question mark is a wildcard for any single character. The WITH box is tricker. While holding ALT, type 0146 on the number pad, and the smart quote right apostrophe will appear. Then add 1? and voila. This should catch all years in the 2010 decade. I also added a ‘0? fix for all 2000-2009 years. Works like a dream, without having to type two apostrophes and delete one. 🙂

    • Stephen Nelson

      One last thought, you have to be careful if this upsets a sentence in quotes that begins with a two digit number. Not likely to happen, but of course it could!

  3. I don’t have the option of creating text using the single quote/apostrophe correctly. I suspect the usefulness of a workaround depends on the text one is editing. For me, doing a mass replace of with is the best I can do. That corrects the direction of the single quote in contractions (the ’em in “Tell ’em I’m gone”) but also injects a spurious x’ in “correct” uses of the single quote. In my text, this is the least difficult solution I’ve come up with.

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