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Use the correct, more readable, and preferred “curly” quotes in your writing. Due to first the advent of typewriters and later our good friend ASCII, the normal “curly” quotation marks of printing were turned into ambidextrous "straight" quotes. This saved two keys on typewriters (as only one is needed for the ‘single quote’ and one for the “double quote”, instead of a left and right for each) and bites in ASCII. However, outside of ASCII, code, and documents typed on typewriters, these should not be used as quotation marks for several reasons:

  • Straight quotes decrease readability and sometimes can lead to confusion about where the quote begins and ends.
  • Straight quotes are easily confused with the ditto mark and the prime symbols used in mathematics, linguistics, and the sciences (such as 5'8" for a height).
  • Many people out there who know the difference between curly quotes and straight and find the incorrect use problematic—for some it is a pet peeve.
  • Straight quotes are rather old-fashioned (like typewriters).

So, using the incorrect quotes may harm your ethos. Plus, straight quotes are often called "dumb" quotes or even "shit" quotes—and you don’t want either word applied to your text, right? Curly quotes are often also called “smart” quotes. In fact, the function in word processing programs that is smart enough to figure out if you need an opening or closing smart quote is called “educating quotes.” I’m sure we all want nicely educated quotes.

For more information:

Note 1: I had a hard time getting the straight quotes in here, WordPress kept changing them to curly. I had to code in the straight single and double quotes: " and '. I find this very funny.

Note 2: I’ve put the rest of this this in serif faces, since the curly quotes are more visibly and curly in most serifs. The Verdana curly and straight quotes are less visibly different. See: “curly” "straight"

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