Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Turning Off Word's Second Guessing with Quote Marks.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 27, 2017)
Andrew often needs, in the course of editing and writing, to put a digit or two in quotation marks in order to quote or cite it. He works in the UK where the preferred system of quoting is for single quote marks, with doubles for quotes within quotes. (The US prefers the opposite.) If Andrew types a single quote mark, then, say, the number 92, and type a closing quote mark, that opening quote mark immediately flips and becomes an initial apostrophe. This happens because Word thinks Andrew is typing a calendar year without the 19 (as in 1992). He is looking for a way to not have this "flip" happen.
Assuming that you have the correct language set for your document (UK English as opposed to US English), the flipping is occurring because AutoFormat is making a wrong assumption about what you are doing. The solution to such guessing is actually easier than you think: just use Ctrl+Z. When Word changes the opening quote mark, immediately press Ctrl+Z and the AutoFormat change is undone.
If you prefer not to have to press Ctrl+Z in those instances where AutoFormat guesses wrong, then you should consider turning off the Smart Quotes feature in AutoFormat and instead using the keyboard shortcuts for inserting just the quotes you want. You can discover these shortcuts by displaying the Insert tab of the ribbon, clicking the Symbol tool in the Symbols group, and choosing More Symbols. Near the bottom you will see the shortcut keys for all the quote marks. You can also find the shortcuts at this Word MVP page:
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1056) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Turning Off Word's Second Guessing with Quote Marks.
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