How to Mass Change Straight Quotes to Smart Quotes in a Word Document

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theodora-obrienBy Theodora Bryant
Developmental Editor/Copy Editor

Whenever I receive a manuscript to edit, I automatically change it to a font I find easy on the eyes for the first critique read pre-edit, and looks good for agent submission or self-publishing.

No matter which original font the author uses, Word changes the quotes, single and double, to straight quotes, when it goes from the author’s computer to mine. It’s already bolloxed up before I put it in Bookman Old Style, or even my other favorite, Palatino Linotype, which uses straight quotes, but of a different style from Word’s choice.

I was alerted by an author who was proofing his return book from Amazon’s Kindle people that they were having trouble resetting his now typeset manuscript from a layout artist, because there were both smart (curly) and straight quotes in it.

Hm. Problem.

I tried mass changing through the Find and Replace function. No joy. Word would say, essentially: No Changes Found. If I put in the character set codes of 0146 and 0148, F&R simply couldn’t see a difference. No surprise; they are the same numbers Word was using to change them. After studying Word’s How-to guides to fix the problem, I knew less than I did before, and I had already tried what was offered as the solutions.

I could hand-change the quotes. It did work. But who in their right mind was going to do that? There can be 50,000 single and double quotes (since these double as apostrophes) in a manuscript. Who knows how many; it depends on the story.

Some of you may already know how I solved it; it was staring me right in the face, really. I copied a Word double quote into Find. Then typed a quote mark of the font I was using into the manuscript, copied and pasted it to the Replace box and hit Find Next. Once I was sure it was Finding and Replacing the right thing (it does both beginning and end double quotes, so you don’t have to do both), I selected Replace All. Zip, it was done. Then I repeated the process with the single quote mark. Now I only have to be alert to reverting the backward (i.e.: ‘em, should be ’em) single quote mark when needed.

I had a good laugh on myself then.

I’d not ever given the Find and Replace function anything to Replace.


THEODORA BRYANT focuses on mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, adventure, and horror titles. She has considerable experience with trade non-fiction. As Editorial Director of her own publishing house, Theodora published almost 100 titles, garnering several awards in “Best Of” categories. Almost half of the titles were bought for paperback reprints, and two were optioned for TV/movies. She has invaluable knowledge about the industry, the type of people who run it, how to work within it, and tips for getting your foot in the door. She’s reviewed, evaluated, and edited thousands of manuscripts through the years, and uses that knowledge to help her clients produce results-driven manuscripts, query letters, and synopses. She works particularly hard at staying in the author’s “voice,” making sure the facts and dialogue match the time period in which the book is set, and “losing” excess verbiage. She’s a good mentor, hard worker, and in many cases, has ultimately become a good friend.

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