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: Using Correct Apostrophes.

Using Correct Apostrophes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 21, 2020)


As you learn in other WordTips, Word includes a feature that automatically converts straight quote marks to smart quotes—the type that pretty well match those used by professional typesetters. While this is great in most instances, it can be annoying when typing some types of words. For instance, you may want to type terms such as "the '80s" or "the '90s." Proper typography dictates that the apostrophes just before the numbers should curve down and to the left, but Word shows them as curving up and to the right. (The Word way would be fine if you were using the apostrophes to start out a full word or phrase.)

So how do you get the apostrophe to point in the proper direction? Granted, you could use the Symbol option from the Insert menu, or you could remember an arcane Alt sequence on the keypad, but there is an easier way. Type a character—any character—before you type the apostrophe. This fools Word into producing an apostrophe pointing in the proper direction. Now you can go back and delete the extraneous character. Word leaves the proper apostrophe and you can continue typing as desired.

Another easy method to produce an apostrophe pointing in the proper direction is to hold down the ctrl key while typing the apostrophe. When the ctrl key is released and you space forward, the proper apostrophe is produced.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13274) 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: Using Correct Apostrophes.

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 4 + 0?

2018-07-04 12:14:58

Theodore Duke

Or, just press the ' key twice, then the backspace key, and then the delete key. '

2018-07-04 07:34:02

Brian Crane

Hold the control key down while tapping the apostrophe twice. It works for me every time. The apostrophe on my HP keyboard is located on the same key as the @ sign. I write a lot of music questions which require its use when writing truncated dates like the ’80s, ’60s etc. I'm using WORD 2016. I don't know if that version of WORD makes any difference.

2018-07-03 10:00:07


@David Ferrier: When writing dates in the form of "the 80s" the apostrophe should be in front of the numbers ("the '80s") to show where the characters are missing in the abbreviation (instead of "the 1980s") - unless, of course, the decade is possessive, as in the case of "80's hits" and the like. You make a good point, though, that the apostrophe is commonly dropped entirely now.

2018-07-03 05:24:38


Or you could type 2019 followed by CTRL-X.

2018-04-01 03:49:19

Alan Elston

I not quite sure what is being talked about here in the comments concerning the Ctrl key and hitting apostrophes.
I have one double quote key

and two single quote keys

The second single quote key does nothing if I hit it once, and I get two single quotes if I hit it twice.
I am confused about what is being talked about here in the comments concerning the Ctrl key and hitting apostrophes.


But I just picked up the Ctrl+z Tio from Henry at the Word Tips site '
That I find very useful because I often write a Visual Basic code, or parts thereof, in Word.
When I do that I often want to show a straight single quote for the Comment symbol which is used in coding at the start of a line to signify comments
the straight double quote is often used in coding to show strings of literal text within code lines
I am frequently annoyed in having the curved / bent


Come up from my keyboard. So then now using the Ctrl+z trick, I get, for those two things, these instead:

I had resorted to copying the straight versions of those from the Visual basic Coding Environment Editor and pasting those into Word as a workaround to getting in Word the straight single and double quotes.
But now I know that if after typing wither of those, I then Hit Ctrl+z , then bent thing goes straight

Interesting that that works. Normally in many computer things, the Ctrl+z reverses some previous action. So I expect here it is reversing the feature in Word that automatically converts straight quote marks to bent things. My keybord does not show bent things, so possobly my kexboard initially passes straight things which the Word feature then perverts to being bent
I am mostly straight and not bent so that Ctrl+z Tip is very helpful

Alan Elston

( P.s. I have no idea before posting how those different single and double quotes may come out in the final post.. I am writing in Word and copying across.. … Well here’s testing
:) )

2014-10-14 11:25:08

John Wallis White

Calvin Wilson's tip is the same as mine, but succinct. Cool!

2014-10-13 09:54:07

Jennifer Thomas

I like to teach the Ctrl+Z method Dr. Bartolo mentioned because it works for all auto-format effects so it's a pretty useful concept.

2014-10-13 09:17:06

Calvin Wilson

I use Ctrl+'', that is, press Ctrl and type apostrophe twice. I must confess I don't know the particulars behind this shortcut, but I have used it for a number of years (through several versions of Word).

2014-10-13 07:19:47

John Wallis White

Easier still: hold down the Ctrl key and hit the apostrophe; nothing visual appears. Then release the Ctrl key and hit the apostrophe again; you get an apostrophe instead of a single open quote mark. Dr. Bartolo's Ctrl+Z gives us a straight apostrophe that typesetters use to notate feet. It works for inches, too. Just hit Ctrl+Z immediately after typing the double quote (Shift+apostrophe). You're welcome.

2014-10-11 14:09:40

Judith Stanton

Exactly right, Allen. I do the same thing. But those little buggers can sure be hard to spot. Judith, novelist and editor

2014-10-11 11:26:13

Word Prefect

The easiest thing is to type two apostrophes in a row and then delete the first.

2014-10-11 08:01:34

David Ferrier

Good tip, however I understand that when writing in dates in the form "the 80s" it is now OK to have no apostrophe at all before the "s".

2014-10-11 07:54:13

Dr. Bartolo

Or just hit Ctrl+Z immediately after typing the apostrophe, which will convert it to a straight apostrophe (as it should be).

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