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Why do apostrophes and quotation marks not appear correctly?

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This FAQ applies to: Any version.

Sometimes apostrophes and quotation marks are rendered as a question mark or some other character, especially if the content is sent via email. What's going on?

You wouldn't think that such a benign thing could be so much trouble, but it can be from time to time. Basically, computers have several ways of displaying these characters. For best results you want the ASCII apostrophe and quotation mark which is a straight hash mark, not a stylized curly one. The reason is that not all web browsers know how to render stylized apostrophes and will replace them with strange looking characters such as an upside-down question mark, diamond, or something like that. It's exactly the same situation with quotation marks (which are essentially just a double apostrophe).

Example:

“The other day I went to the store,”   This is using the bad quotation marks

"And I bought 14 apples to make pies."    Here's the what you should use instead

When does this problem arise? Usually when you are copying from a word processor into Plone. Even pasting into Notepad which strips out all formatting won't work. You'll have to either change them by hand, or run a find-and-replace operation to get rid of them. You'll notice that in the Plone editor, all you get are "plain-text" apostrophes and quotation marks, so you can fix them there as well.

How do you stop it from happening again? If you're using MS Word, you should turn off Smart Quotes to force all quotes and apostrophes to render as normal ASCII characters.

For Word97, Word2000, and WordXP

  1. Pull down the Tools menu
  2. Select AutoCorrect.
  3. Select AutoFormat As You Type.
  4. Deselect Replace as you type "Straight quotes" with "smart quotes".
  5. Select AutoFormat.
  6. Deselect Replace "Straight quotes" with "smart quotes".
  7. Click OK.
by samk last modified 2008-03-05 15:39 All content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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