Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Smart Quotes are Incorrectly Replaced.

Smart Quotes are Incorrectly Replaced

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 21, 2019)

Matt has a long document in which he needs to convert straight quotes to smart quotes. The original document used straight quotes, and Matt used the Find and Replace method (described in other issues of WordTips) to do the conversion. The problem is that in about 20% of the cases, Word replaced the smart quotes incorrectly. Sometimes he got opening quotes where closing quotes should have been, and vice versa.

Other Word users reported that they ran into the same problem and concluded that perhaps the Find and Replace method is not the best way to make the changes. Instead, these users rely on the AutoFormat feature in Word. Using this method requires a bit of forethought, as the AutoFormat tool is not natively available in the ribbon-based interface. Instead, you need to add the tool to the Quick Access Toolbar. To add it, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, click the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box choose Customize. (In Word 2010 or a later version, you should choose Quick Access Toolbar.) (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Customize options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Using the Choose Commands From drop-down list, choose Commands Not In the Ribbon.
  5. Locate and select the AutoFormat command in the list of commands.
  6. Click the Add button. The AutoFormat command moves to the right side of the dialog box.
  7. Click OK.

With the tool in place, you are ready to instruct Word how you want AutoFormat to do its work and then to do the actual changes. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the document in which you need to change the quotes.
  2. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  3. Click Proofing at the left side of the dialog box.
  4. Click the AutoCorrect Options button. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  5. Make sure the AutoFormat tab is displayed. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The AutoFormat tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  7. Make sure that the only check box that is selected is the Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes check box.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Click the AutoFormat tool on the Quick Access Toolbar. (This is the one you previously added there.) Word displays the AutoFormat dialog box. (See Figure 3.)
  10. Figure 3. The AutoFormat dialog box.

  11. Click OK.

Word then goes through and makes the changes to the quotes, as you directed. If you still get some of the quotes that are wrong, or if your original document had a mix of straight quotes and incorrect smart quotes, then you can use the Find and Replace tool in Word. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button, if it is available. (See Figure 4.)
  3. Figure 4. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Use Wildcards check box is selected.
  5. In the Find What box, enter the following: ^0148<
  6. In the Replace With box, enter the following: ^0147
  7. Click Replace All.

What you did here was to replace any closing quotes (^0148) that occur at the beginning of a word (<) with the opening quote (^0147). You should repeat the above steps, but replace closing apostrophes at the beginning of a word (^0146<) with opening apostrophes (^0145), then replace opening quotes at the end of a word (^0147>) with a closing quote (^0148), and finally opening apostrophes at the end of a word (^0145>) with closing apostrophes (^0146).

If this still fails to give the right results, you may need to analyze what characters are surrounding your quotes and apostrophes. If you, for instance, have a space before what should be a closing quote, then Word will more than likely assume that the quote should be an opening quote. If this is the case, you may need to make some edits to your document to get rid of the spaces that are causing Word to misinterpret your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9194) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Smart Quotes are Incorrectly Replaced.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Controlling the Hidden Text Attribute

Want your macro to change the Hidden attribute for some text in your document? It's easier to change than you might think.

Discover More

Quickly Copying Worksheets

Excel provides a little-known way to copy worksheets simply by clicking and dragging. Here's how to do it.

Discover More

Creating a List of Files in a Directory

Do you need a list of all the files in a directory? It's easy to create if you use the proper command-line commands.

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Inserting Different Dashes

Dashes have a lot of different uses in writing. Word supports three types of dashes, as discussed in this tip.

Discover More

Checking for a List of Phrases in a Document

Once you start amassing quite a few documents, it is not uncommon to want to change phrases commonly used in those ...

Discover More

Finding Long Sentences

For certain types of writing, you may want to make sure that the sentences in your document do not exceed a certain ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 - 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.