Dumb Quotation Marks: Inching Away From Readability

Why do many editing programs – like the one in which I’m typing at this moment – use “feet and inch” marks for quotations, instead of proper “curly quotes”?

I’ve tried copying and pasting the correct characters. They should look like this “ instead of this “. You can’t just paste them into the text, though – and even if you paste them into the HTML in Blogger’s editor using Windows Character Map, it seems to recognize the opening and closing quotes as the same Unicode character!

U+201C is the Unicode for Left Double Quotation Mark

U+201D is the Unicode for Right Double Quotation Mark

U+2018 is the Unicode for Left Single Quotation Mark

U+2019 is the Unicode for Right Single Quotation Mark

I’m sure I could find a way to do this manually. But why should I have to do that every time I use a quotation?

This is a mark for the measure of Feet ‘

This is the mark for Inches “

One day we’ll have decent typography on the Web which will be smart enough to do this automatically.

Microsoft Word has been clever about this for a long time now. When you type the quotation marks on your keyboard, it uses the typographically correct quotation marks, and even gets the beginning and end directions right. It’s hardly rocket science – why isn’t everyone doing this? Curly quotes look so much better, and give an optically pleasing space around the quotation which sets it apart from normal text. Which is what quotation marks are supposed to do…

“This is a quotation” was copied and pasted from Word into Blogger’s editor. It just works, because Word does Unicode right.

I guess that means I have to write in Word first, then copy and paste here. Seems a shame. Takes the “instant post” factor out of blogging. But I’d rather do that than put up with ugly quotes.


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