Jul 29th, 2008 by handolio
Anyone who’s used Word will know that, by default, it replaces bog-standard straight quotes (and here I’d demonstrate what they look like, but our theme will change them to curved ones) with curved ones. It also changes hyphens (-) to en dashes (–).
No big deal, you’d think. After all, it’s 2008. Surely nobody’s producing websites that can only handle the 93 printable characters provided by ASCII, a seven-bit telegraphic code developed in the 1960s?
Yeah, you’d think. Just yesterday we encountered a problem with, as our client described it to us, “some unknown entity (probably some rogue character)… breaking [the] import process”. We all ran to the transporter room with phasers set to stun, but they turned out to be talking about a curved apostrophe that had crept unbidden into a few hundred words of copy.
Don’t quote me
After more problems today, we found ourselves double-checking our PCs looking for the one on which we’d forgotten to disable the feature. Charlie asked if I could put together “a quick step-by-step list of how to turn off styled quote marks and lengthened dashes”. I could, and here it is:
1 Click the stupid, round, nameless button in the top left of Word.
2 Click Word Options, hidden irritatingly in the last place you’d expect to find it; at the bottom of the drop down menu that appears.
3 Click Proofing in the left-hand pane of the pointlessly over-styled and graphics-heavy window that appears.
4 Click the grey, blockily incongruous AutoCorrect Options… button.
5 Click the AutoFormat as you type tab.
6 Under Replace as you type, uncheck every. Single. Fucking. Option.
7 Click the AutoFormat tab.
8 Under Replace, uncheck every. Single. Fucking. Option. Again. Because clearly once wasn’t enough.
9 Click OK on both windows to get back to the unadulterated joy of using Word 2007.
Of course, this is elementary punctuation pedantry. If you want something a little harder, I heartily recommend Mr Phin’s Ten typographic mistakes everyone makes. At the time of writing, it’s attracted an extraordinary 150 comments.
While we’re being pedantic, I think it should be “Ten typographic mistakes that everyone makes”, but I’ll let a sub tell him. What’s the worst that could happen?