selfaware soup

Esther Weidauer

Apostrophes

2021-03-29

An apostrophe, a left quotation mark and a right quotation mark, with distorted contours

Today on I Hate Computers:

Although there is a dedicated APOSTROPHE (U+0027) character, the one you should actually use is RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK (U+2019), but it gets worse …

On a Mac, if you press the key that suggests to enter a RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK, because it’s on the same key as the double quotation mark, you actually get an APOSTROPHE and you have to press OPT + SHIFT + ] to get the actual RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK. Except with some text editors, that try to be “smart” and replace an APOSTROPHE in a word like “couldn’t” with a RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK.

If you use multiple editors, you’re likely to end up with inconsistent apostrophes.

Oh, and on an iPad pressing the same key will give you a LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK (U+2018) which is the most wrong of the bunch.

Want a demonstration?

U+0027: '
U+2018: ‘
U+2019: ’

Depending on the font the difference ranges from almost invisible to really stark.

Serif fonts usually make it more obvious, so you might be surprised how a document looks and have a really hard time hunting down the mistakes in your mono space font editor when editing LaTeX that usually renders with serifs.

My workaround right now? I just type whatever and search-replace the wrong characters afterwards, which is an annoying chore.