Thursday, December 29, 2016

Quotation marks and the Internet

From an Atlantic piece, “Has the Internet Killed Curly Quotes?”:

Paul Ford, a writer and programmer known for his thoughts about how code affects culture, notes that even on a mobile device “the energy to type a curly quote feels prohibitive. You have to hold down the quote. The effort of typing one on a regular keyboard [also] can be prohibitive.” Some software automatically swaps in the “smart” quote, but doesn’t always get the right curl (decades should always be ’90s, but autoformat software often drops in ‘90s). For wonks, you can find cheatsheets for explicit shortcuts on desktop machines, like Shift-Option-] for a curly apostrophe on the Mac, but it requires additional effort and memorization.
Oh, the arduousness. To my mind it’s a simple matter to make a curly quotation mark using an iPhone: the effort of “holding down” is only metaphorical when touching a finger to a glass screen. And the effort on a keyboard is hardly “prohibitive.” Shift-Option-] (or ⇧-⌥-], to be fancy about it) and other key combinations become second nature with a little practice. Typing Option-[ and Shift-Option-[ in sequence gives a pair of smart quotation marks — “” — that you can fill as you please. “Make something up,” he suggested.

As for “additional effort and memorization”: let us recall, say, WordStar commands.

Another good cheatsheet
Straight and curly quotes (Practical Typography)

comments: 2

shallnot said...

The most annoying part of entering smart quotes on a Mac is that any key modifier plus [ should always produce an open quote (single or double) and any key modifier plus ] should always produce a closing quote. This provides a paralell: [], (), {}, “”, ‘’.

Michael Leddy said...

I remember remapping the [] and {} key combinations on my first Mac to do just that. I later decided that it was easier (for me) to add the Shift. I think that it’s still possible to remap keys.