by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 17, 2020)
Charlotte is having trouble with the em dash and smart quotes. She is a novelist and uses the em dash in her writing. When she does, the quotes following it face the wrong way. She's been using Ctrl+Alt+- to make the em dash and then Alt+0148 to put in the correct closing quote. This is a pain, however. Charlotte wonders if there is some method, a macro perhaps, that she can use so she doesn't have to do these additional steps.
There are a few ways you could approach this problem. One way is to simply change how you type the sequence of an em dash and a closing quote. Instead, type an em dash, a period, and then the closing quote. Word will turn the closing quote the proper direction in this scenario and you, as a final step with your document, could replace all occurrences of the em dash followed by a period with just the em dash.
Another approach is to change how you type your dialog. Start by typing the opening quote immediately followed by the closing quote. Backspace one character so that the insertion point is between the quote marks, and then type what you want between the two. Adding the em dash at the end of the quote will leave the closing quote facing in the proper direction.
A third approach is to add a couple of shortcuts to the em dash and closing quote characters. Follow these steps:
Figure 1. The Customize Keyboard dialog box.
With the new shortcut keys assigned, you can type the em-dash-closing-quote sequence by pressing Alt+M immediately followed by Alt+".
If you do want to go the macro approach, you can create one that does both characters in the sequence for you. The macro itself would be very short; a single line, as shown here:
Sub Endquote() Selection.TypeText Text:="—" & ChrW(8221) End Sub
Assign the macro to a keyboard shortcut, then any time you use the shortcut the two-character sequence is inserted in 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 (13363) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.
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