Tech Tips for Writers is an occasional post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.
Editing is a challenge but formatting can be worse. Sometimes, what shows up on the word processing page isn’t what I want and I don’t know how to fix it.
Here are two that long-annoyed me and now I have fixes for:
- Replace straight quotes with curly
- Replace double dashes with an em dash
Replace straight quotes with curly
There are two types of quote marks–straight and curly.
Straight quotes are the two generic vertical quotation marks (or one for contractions):
Curly quotes are used to open and close dialogue.
Sometimes, you type a curly quote (at the start or finish of dialogue) but it comes out a straight quote (don’t ask me why). That has to be fixed but how to do that without laboriously copy-pasting the right type where it belongs (which I did until my editor, Anneli Purchase, suggested an easier way). Here’s an easy solution from Hodgepodge Solutions:
- On the File tab, click Options.
- Click Proofing, and then click AutoCorrect Options.
- In the AutoCorrect dialog box, do the following:
- Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab, and under Replace as you type, select the “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” checkbox.
- Click the AutoFormat tab, and under Replace, select the “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes” checkbox.
- Click OK.
- Do a “Find and Replace.”
- Under Find, type a single quotation mark (‘).
- Under Replace, type a single quotation mark (‘).
- Click Replace All.
- Repeat the above steps with a double quotation mark (“).
If you’d prefer a video, here’s a good one:
Turn double dashes into em dashes
An em dash is that long, smooth dash that allows you to add an additional thought within a sentence—like this. The em dash is one line without a break. That doesn’t always happen when typing. Tech Tools for Writers has five good solutions that include:
- keyboard shortcuts
- Unicode shortkeys (that Alt+a number stuff)
- program your word processing auto-correct feature (great idea)
- 2 more
…but my favorite is:
If you find a double dash that should be an em dash:
Add a space after the word that follows what should be an em dash. It automatically converts it for you:
When I have a lot of these, I do a find-replace and clean them all out at once.
BTW, the only way I know to do this in WordPress is with their special characters key. Any faster suggestions?
More Tech Tips for Writers:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.