Use consistent quotation mark, apostrophe style

A common problem that can sneak into your manuscript when self-publishing is a mix of quotation mark and apostrophe styles. That’s because some software programs use smart quotes, or those that are curved (e.g. “”), while others use dumb quotes, or those that are straight (e.g. “).

Typographically in paperbacks, smart quotes (also referred to as curly quotes) are preferred over dumb quotes (also known as keyboard quotes). When self-publishing an ebook, you can use either style, but you want to be consistent and exclusively use one.

If you have a mix of styles, simply do a global search and find, and replace all of the quotation marks and apostrophes with one style. In Microsoft Word, to replace dumb quotes with smart quotes, first highlight and copy a smart quote in the text (You may have to type one.). Then highlight a dumb quote and in the command ribbon under the Home tab, hit “Replace”. A screen should pop up with the dumb quote in the “Find what” box. Paste the smart quote in the “Replace with” box and hit “Replace all”. This will replace both the opening and the ending quotation mark throughout the document. Finally, repeat this process for apostrophes.

Be careful to not include extra spaces before or after the quotation mark/apostrophe in the “Find what” or the “Replace with” boxes. In the case of the former, an extra space may mean not finding all of the quotation marks that need to be replaced; in the case of the latter, an extra space will introduce a new error into your manuscript – an unneeded space between the quotation mark/apostrophe and the letter that comes after or before it.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.