Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 7, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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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 Microsoft 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. ...

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What is one less than 8?

2024-01-31 07:31:48

Tony Goodwin

Thank you - I was using a macro to cut and paste stuff to develop an SQL statement and the ' was being replaced with smart quoted - unticking the
change options/proofing/autocorrect options/autoformat as you type/, and make sure the 'straight quotes with smart quotes' is NOT CHECKED worked for me for this.


2023-04-28 10:07:59

Karen NYC

Thanks very much for your site and this post. For me, in Office 365, I needed to turn off the Autoformat replace quotes as you type before this (or any other solution, including multiple VBA scripts) would work.


2022-10-17 12:51:33

Melanie

Thank you so much for this post. You can't imagine how much stress you've removed from my life!


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