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March 2, 2008 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Apostrophe Atrophy highlights dumb quotes appearing in print, an unforgivable graphic design gaffe.
Just toggle the checkbox in InDesign/Quark already!
posted by porn in the woods (111 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always turn off "smart quotes" in Word. I think it looks pretentious.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2008


I agree! Up with the "dumb quotes" backlash!
posted by subgear at 10:57 AM on March 2, 2008


I agree with the smart quotes issue. But the apostrophe thing... sometimes a dumb apostrophe looks better.

And I like Copperplate!
posted by The Deej at 11:10 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I let myself get riled up over every “unforgiveable” design gaffe I witness on a daily basis as I pass through the world, I’d have a brain anneurism. Which would only hurt me, really.*

*(But I do wish smart quotes were automatic, ‘cuz I almost forgot how to make them.)
posted by miss lynnster at 11:10 AM on March 2, 2008


actually, you'd have an aneurysm. but this is forgivable.
posted by borborygmi at 11:13 AM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Smart quotes are the fastest and easiest way to make your web page look like garbage on half the computers that visit, particularly since most designers use cute PHP tools that replace the dumb quote with the Unicode or Windows-font smart quote characters rather than with an HTML entity.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:13 AM on March 2, 2008 [7 favorites]


"i hate smart quotes"
posted by bhnyc at 11:14 AM on March 2, 2008


Yeah, smart quotes are ugly. I'd rather people target usage (groce'rs quotes, I'm looking at you) before aesthetics.
posted by flatluigi at 11:16 AM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Your remark's on usage's are excellent, flatluigi.
posted by Dizzy at 11:18 AM on March 2, 2008


Thank's.
posted by flatluigi at 11:20 AM on March 2, 2008


“ = “
” = ”

“ARR-dee-quo” and “ELL-dee-quo” serve as a suitable mnemonic device for me...I maintain a corporate Intranet and insist on doing everything in Notepad. I use smart quotes because it makes me feel special for possessing pseudo-esoteric pendantic knowledge.


I find these pretentious too, but for whatever reason “smart quotes” “look more professional.” Oh yeah; pretentious=professional.
posted by lordaych at 11:20 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Too much free time. Too much pretension. Plus, sometimes copperplate is exactly the right font. There are more valuable things to get up in arms about.

Your favorite serif sucks.
posted by MythMaker at 11:21 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I loathe smart quotes. It makes cutting and pasting things into 'normal text' a mess. And its even worse when they are unicode.

The mere fact that someone is upset about *not* using smart quotes is a waste as opposed to really getting upset about the totally misuse of quotes and apostrophes.
posted by MrLint at 11:22 AM on March 2, 2008


I often write on student's papers: "change dumb quotes to smart quotes when copying-and-pasting from the internet," and my students are like whoa. How did he know that?
posted by exlotuseater at 11:23 AM on March 2, 2008 [18 favorites]


Similar: lowercase L blog
posted by aerotive at 11:26 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, so it's a "typographic faux pas" and "all-too-common problem". Why?
Typically, for an article by a designer, the smart quotes article linked is all about telling us what to do without ever explaining why it matters.
posted by normy at 11:34 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'll be honest: I actually prefer the look of dumb quotes in most cases. That blog can suck my ass (touch a damn dick).
posted by danb at 11:37 AM on March 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Typographer's quotes do look better. But I'm tired of seeing them in systems that weren't really designed for them like the web and e-mail. The problem on the web is that search tools usually don't understand that they should be found when I use a typewriter's quote. And on e-mail, much of the time they are mangled into stupid character codes.
posted by grouse at 11:43 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]




.
posted by subgear at 11:44 AM on March 2, 2008


Of course, the most pretentious thing is people who try to simulate typographer's quotes in ASCII by doing ``this.'' Annoying, distracting, and ugly—they hit the trifecta.
posted by grouse at 11:44 AM on March 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


From the second link:
One of the most irritating typographic faux pas is the use of straight quotation marks (also called “dumb” quotes)
...
You can also replace all the quotation marks manually
...
don’t forget the apostrophes
...
Avoid using smart quotes in e-mail when possible. In the case of HTML, replace smart quotes with the appropriate tag so the wrong character isn’t displayed (check your HTML reference for the specific tags for each “smart” character you need: open, closed, single or double)

This is all so complicated! In the old days we used typewriters and there was none of this smart-ass quote stuff! All you kids, take your “smart quotes” off my lawn!
posted by eye of newt at 11:48 AM on March 2, 2008


I... never knew this was such an issue. The Great Comic Sans debate I can understand as that font is hellishly ugly, but I honestly can't see anything wrong with half of the images in the first link. They're quotes, people.

.... Do I lose my nerd license now?
posted by Phire at 11:55 AM on March 2, 2008


Honestly, who decided that the default quote characters produced by a U.S. English keyboard were evil?

Did the qwerty keyboard anger some pedantic god of design?
posted by tehloki at 11:55 AM on March 2, 2008


Wow - talk about anal-retentive. Every single one of the images on the linked page was perfectly readable. Is this really that much of an issue for anyone other than typography or graphic-design nerds?
posted by deadmessenger at 12:09 PM on March 2, 2008


Near where I grew up, there was an Army base with a great big sign out front that said "AMERICA AT IT'S BEST".

'nuff said.
posted by tzikeh at 12:10 PM on March 2, 2008


This only matters to people who are never fun.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 12:18 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is this something you need a stick up your ass in order to care about?
posted by John of Michigan at 12:20 PM on March 2, 2008 [7 favorites]


One of the most irritating typographic faux pas is the use of straight quotation marks

No, it isn't. I remember this argument having a little more traction ten years ago when the Internet was still new to many people, but by now surely everyone has gotten used to the dumbing-down of quotes. Quotation marks (and Bourbon) are perfectly acceptable when taken straight. And I say this as someone who has more than a few times been unable to resist commenting on the bad kerning on roadside signs, despite this usually have no effect other than causing my friends to look at me as if I'm even more crazy than they'd already suspected.
posted by sfenders at 12:20 PM on March 2, 2008


Honestly, who decided that the default quote characters produced by a U.S. English keyboard were evil?

It's an anachronism from typewriters. Properly curled quotes and apostrophes would require four different dies on a type head and some way for the operator to toggle between the open and closed quotes. Computers eliminate both problems.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:25 PM on March 2, 2008


Count me in with the typography and design nerds that find this overly pedantic.
posted by jeffj at 12:26 PM on March 2, 2008


I saw a yard sign that read Ron Paul ‘08. As if we need another reason to mock him. If you’re going to use curly quotes, use the right ones.
posted by adamrice at 12:39 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I let myself get riled up over every “unforgiveable” design gaffe I witness on a daily basis...

That's why you should pick a single design gaffe, and focus on that to the exclusion of all else. Whatever gaffe you do choose, make sure you keep your camera in your lap when you watch TV, in case one pops up.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


“Pretentious” is being defined ever further down, I see.*

* When I was a kid learning to write I would always make the opening quote like backwards nines instead of sixes because I thought it looked nicer. The teacher never was able to rid me of that little quirk.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:51 PM on March 2, 2008


I'd add something here, but danb already expressed it as well as I ever could have.
posted by oats at 12:52 PM on March 2, 2008


I'm with flatluigi, those grocers quotes are "the worst". I had hoped this website was a comprehensive, unflagging attack on said quotes.
posted by shothotbot at 12:54 PM on March 2, 2008


What's up with all the ‘08 election signs I keep seeing? It should be ’08. Shouldn't it?
posted by Eideteker at 12:55 PM on March 2, 2008


What's wrong with copperplate?
I actually think it looks kinda cool in letterheads, for example. Which probably makes me totally uncool in the eyes of this apostrophe ayatollah.
posted by sour cream at 12:58 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Uh, what's happening here is that design standards are changing due to the influence of the Internet, and this designer is behind the times.
posted by texorama at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2008


While we're having this most excellent discussion, I'll throw in a nugget of trivia that many of you probably already know, but which I only learned the other day and upon hearing, had a lightbulb moment:

The reason we call capital letters/majuscules "uppercase," and miniscules "lowercase" comes from the early days of printing when typesetters/ compositionists actually had a LOWER CASE of letters with the minis and an UPPER CASE containing the caps, from which they pulled when setting the printer up.

I hear a few "ahhhhs" in the audience.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:09 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


The ‘08 is caused when they type something in a word processor that is helpfully trying to smart the quotes up. Because they're starting something, the quote mark points to the right. If they typed 08' the word processor would change it to 08’.

Which is why saying, "Just turn smart quotes on" does not solve all the problems.

And yeah, these people need to get a life, hard. Of course, here I am, wasting time complaining about the things that other people get upset about. Who's the oversnarker now?
posted by Deathalicious at 1:17 PM on March 2, 2008


I hear a few "ahhhhs" in the audience.

Well, you may have heard me say "Ahhhh, nice way to rub in how old I am, because I have actually set type by hand from those cases."
posted by The Deej at 1:18 PM on March 2, 2008


The site looks like a Tumblr hack.

Also: you have serious superiority issues if you have trained yourself to photograph every instance of straight quotes you see and you think this reflects negatively on your subjects.
posted by mistersquid at 1:19 PM on March 2, 2008


Any other Canadian kids here learn to remember opening and closing quotation marks as 66 and 99, Lemieux and Gretzky?
posted by good in a vacuum at 1:58 PM on March 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


„I personally prefer German quotation marks.”

»Not these German ones, though.«

«These French ones are okay.»
posted by Sys Rq at 2:06 PM on March 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


good in a vaccuum: YES!
posted by Sys Rq at 2:07 PM on March 2, 2008


--Who needs quotation marks, anyway, said the Frenchman.
posted by dhartung at 2:20 PM on March 2, 2008


Cor blimey, a thread full of rong.

Straight "quotes" aren't quotes at all, not even if they're on your typewriter. My typewriter didn't have a 1, but it didn't make my l a 1, did it? They're inch and foot marks -- as in 6'5". That we have to use them on the web isn't a win for the common man or something, it's just as shitty as ls for 1s.

They are a technical failing, and they've only been about since the days of the typewriter. They should never have lived into the computer era, so once again, fuck ASCII. Pretentious? Fuck off. There's no salt-of-the-earth nobility in lauding the limitations of your tools.

To be honest, though, this would evaporate almost entirely in the real world if Photoshop and Illustrator had intelligent quotes on by default. (Apart from my other pet hate: constructions like rock ‘n’ roll.)
posted by bonaldi at 2:21 PM on March 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


dhartung: Let's not start a whole new argument re: em-dashes.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:29 PM on March 2, 2008


aerotive: "Similar: lowercase L blog"

From the site:

"You know it's big news when not one, but TWO lowercase L readers submit the same lowercase L occurence. Today Fox News sadly reports that five people were shot dead in an Illinois mall. What's even worse is that the image supplied by Associated Press, labeled MAll TRAGEDY, was a real tragedy itself."

Oy.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:29 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey bonaldi: It146;s rock 146;n146; roll, not that jumble that you typed. I guess you were too busy blathering to pay proper attention.
posted by mistersquid at 2:42 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


shit.
posted by mistersquid at 2:42 PM on March 2, 2008


hehehehehHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEheheheheheheh
posted by bonaldi at 2:43 PM on March 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


also: my construction is right. Clearly you hate it too. I guess you were too busy mis-typing to ... etc etc.
posted by bonaldi at 2:44 PM on March 2, 2008


hee. I cannot stop laughing at how dumb this is (not to mention my live preview gaffe).

My point is that something stupid like “rock n’ roll” for “rock n’ roll” really does not matter, no matter how much you curse. People go off on how correct they are which turns into how right they are in the divine eye of a typographical God.

Well, you know what? As professor of English, I can say your pedantry sucks.
posted by mistersquid at 2:48 PM on March 2, 2008


And don't forget the ❝heavy quotes❞ and ❛heavy apostrophes❜ that Unicode has brought us. Heavy and smart‼

With all of the ways that internet denizens and copywriters use quotes incorrectly and in the wrong places, leave it up to a designer to complain about what they look like. I could totally out-pretense him.

hypenation point ‧ hyphen ‐ non-breaking hypen ‑ swung dash ⁓ en dash – figure dash ‒ em dash — horizontal bar‼

And let's not forget the ellipsis character… tricolon? ⁝ vertical four dots? ⁞

Can your fonts handle my Unicode typography⁇ Can they‽
posted by XMLicious at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2008


No, bonaldi. You were wrong.
posted by mistersquid at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2008


Oh yeh, that type of thing is total pedantry, I grant, and it doesn't bother me in the real world at all. Straight quotes do bug me, though, because they're just lame fails that reinforce an utter lack of pride in a craft.

If you're going to work with typography as big as a man's head, why not try and use it with grace? I mean, it'd be equally shit to see < < french quoting like this > >
posted by bonaldi at 2:51 PM on March 2, 2008


The OED seems to use only straight quotes with rock 'n' roll, although they use typographer's quotes elsewhere. Strange.
posted by grouse at 2:52 PM on March 2, 2008


No, bonaldi. You were wrong.
Well, fuck me, a professor of English who can't read. Constructions like that are "my pet hate". Why would that be? Because they are wrong. Then you called me out on it, claiming that I'd typed it wrong. I hadn't, I'd typed it right.
posted by bonaldi at 2:53 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, just looking at the blog ... tenuous at best (objecting to items in the backgrounds of photographs?) and plain wrong at worst (ranting about "our clients' somethingorother" being grammatically wrong is ... wrong. Unlike the designer after this all-too-public display of ignorance, the victim here may have more than one client left.)
posted by davemee at 3:07 PM on March 2, 2008


overthinking a case of type?
posted by flatluigi at 3:30 PM on March 2, 2008


“On that day in 20—, mess’rs b——i and m——d exchanged heated words; you will find the full transcript on pages 28–32 of your juror’s handbook,” said Mr Hardacre to the assemblage.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:32 PM on March 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


I want to take this thread and fold it up, put it in my coat pocket, keep it safe. Maybe make it a little weatherproof pouch to carry it in. Maybe one from the store, a themed one, perhaps, with Halo 3 on it. Why? Well I will tell you.

The next time otherwise intelligent folk get into their disaffected "my folks made me go to church and a resent them for it" mobius strip of "Religion is the root of all human corruption" wankery, I'll take out my little pouch, look at Master Chief's expressionless-yet-somehow-stern faceplate and smile, because his spartan armor and polyurethane waterproof coating and snap-button holds within two grown men shouting and cursing at one another over a goddamn apostrophe.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:41 PM on March 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


within two grown men shouting and cursing at one another over a goddamn apostrophe.
Actually, the crippling irony is that we're completely in agreement on the apostrophe. We're squabbling over a misunderstanding; a mistranslation. So, wait, yep, just like religion.
posted by bonaldi at 3:54 PM on March 2, 2008


Sometimes I am a giant jackass. My apologies to bonaldi, whose etiquette, restraint, and intensity are exemplary.

Clearly, watching folks point out spelling and typing errors as if they always matter allows me to approach my full sphincter potential.
posted by mistersquid at 3:58 PM on March 2, 2008


MetaFilter: Dumb Quotes
posted by not_on_display at 4:05 PM on March 2, 2008


ARSE! ARSE! ARSE!
posted by kcds at 4:06 PM on March 2, 2008


Bravo, to both of you. I was sitting here, witnessing what I thought might be the beginnings of a meltdown (which, sometimes, I LOVE) but in this particular case I was dreading. In general I agree, Content > Form. But the medium is always important to the message.
posted by exlotuseater at 4:20 PM on March 2, 2008


coo, thanks mistersq... hey, hold up, is that an Oxford comma? Now them's fighting punctuations
posted by bonaldi at 4:21 PM on March 2, 2008


I've submitted articles to magazines where they say in advance, no smart quotes.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:28 PM on March 2, 2008


Shakespeare, you're a drunken savage
Well, you're a sober and green-eyed Voltaire
It almost sounds funny like two tough-talking goalies really going at it upstairs
posted by bwg at 4:47 PM on March 2, 2008


I've submitted articles to magazines where they say in advance, no smart quotes.
That's because Word's Smart Quotes are Windows-specific characters and drive some publishing typesetting software nuts, especially on the Mac. If you look at the printed mag I'll bet you hojillions they're printing typographer's quotes.
posted by bonaldi at 4:49 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Smart quotes for print. Inch marks for today's web.

Tomorrow's web? Maybe, but I doubt it. Ask me again in four years.
posted by rokusan at 5:11 PM on March 2, 2008


dumb quotes game!
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:27 PM on March 2, 2008


So how do we feel about smart quotes and apostrophes being used in measurements of feet and inches? I see it a lot and it shits me no end.
posted by tellurian at 5:27 PM on March 2, 2008


^Yeah, I mean, get fuckin' metric altready!!!
posted by not_on_display at 5:48 PM on March 2, 2008


measurements of feet and inches

That is how "we" feel about that.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:48 PM on March 2, 2008


You know what's really deserving of your FIVE MINUTES HATE?

``these quotes''

They're endemic in wire service articles – two grave accents (or backticks if you will), closed by two straight single quotes. I've got no problem with straight quotes, I prefer them to the garbage soup that Wordpress and other PHP apps love to spit out when people paste from Word into their blog.

The straight quotes are just plain, for better or worse. Grave accents are abusive.
posted by blasdelf at 5:48 PM on March 2, 2008


That's publishing tech again. You get quotes like ``that'', and you can find and replace them in one pass for real quotes. There's no other way to transmit quotes that's platform-agnostic, and Quark only got find-and-replace straight-for-smart in version 3. TeX uses them as well, actually.
posted by bonaldi at 5:54 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Except asshat publishers often fail to make the replacement.

TeX has a lot of really stupid escape sequences, and Metafont+DVI has been the retard in the room since postscript came of age. Postscript/PDFs generated from DVI output is absolutely awful. It's not bad enough that it uses bitmap fonts, but it places each letterform in it's own little layer, using absolutely nothing good about postscript.

I use tetex and pdflatex, which both let me just use unicode in my source document, use real outline fonts, and produce beautiful PDF output. TeX was flawless in the days of phototypesetting, but that time is long gone. It's layout algorithms, however, will forever reign supreme.
posted by blasdelf at 6:09 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I never noticed there was a difference, and couldn't care less. And I'm one of the Interweb's more snarky grammar Nazis.
posted by zardoz at 6:24 PM on March 2, 2008


What rokusan said. Aesthetics and typornography are one thing, another is trying to build a single-page rss aggregator and having to update the parser's character substitutions every time a rebellious feed pops up that handles quotes yet-another-version-of "their way".

Fun example is the feed for CNN's "Political Ticker", which does smart quotes in such a way that not only are they pose parsing problems for crazy third parties like me, they show up as

Ron Paul says burritos are &ldquo;unconstitutional&rdquo;

in the little box on CNN Politics' own front page where the "latest from the Ticker" is listed.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:27 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


are they do they
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:28 PM on March 2, 2008


It's layout algorithms, however, will forever reign supreme.
qft. And InDesign's Paragraph Composer is based on them as well -- best of both worlds! -- although I do love me some tetex
posted by bonaldi at 6:29 PM on March 2, 2008


Ok, so wait, the website is full of pictures demonstrating how designers have forgotten how to use smart quote and proper apostrophes, but all of the text captions under the pictures contain dumb quotes and straight apostrophes. Um?
posted by ddf at 6:57 PM on March 2, 2008


If you've read down this far, you'll also want to visit this:

Similar: The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks

Not so much for typographers, more for the grammarians, I think*


*I'm not a grammarian nor a typographer
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:42 PM on March 2, 2008


what's REALLY dumb? not being able to distinguish between inches (or minutes) and something in quotes. you would have to be a "f*cking moron".

it always amazes me how something as interesting as typography is almost always practiced by those who emphatically aren't.

...though i do get a kick out of the term 'keming' for improper kerning.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:04 PM on March 2, 2008


YEHyou sureh i t thatNa1L 0n thE HEAD. AS LONG AS YOU CAN DISTINGUISH IT, IT'S C00L.
posted by bonaldi at 9:48 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


typographers are the analiest people in the universe. who gives a fiddler's fart about apostrophes?!?!

and yes, i just invented a word just because their anal retentiveness is the analiest.
posted by liza at 11:25 PM on March 2, 2008


the term 'keming' for improper kerning.

Now, that is brilliant.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:50 AM on March 3, 2008


I'm still angry that my iPod says, "Keepin' it real, yo."
I thought Apple was the company that cared about design.
posted by ColdChef at 3:19 PM on March 5, 2008


How did we get this far into the thread without anyone mentioning smartypants?

(ironically, I got here via DF's rss feed)
(and yes, I just used a dumb apostrophe, because using smartypants on my blog has atrophied the part of my brain which stores unicode values)
posted by ook at 3:22 PM on March 5, 2008


John "Daring Fireball" Gruber wants to take away your computers.
posted by nowonmai at 3:38 PM on March 5, 2008


I'll drop my objections when Firefox lets me type ' in the find box and have it search for ’.
posted by grouse at 3:54 PM on March 5, 2008


flatluigi, shothotbot: What the heck are grocers quotes?
posted by iBulk at 6:47 PM on March 5, 2008


iBulk: First of all, thank you for letting me find out that I'm mentioned in the #1 search result for grocers' quotes on Google. The grocer's apostrophe or grocers' quote is the incorrect apostrophe placed in a plural noun. For example: "Apple's, carrot's, and banana's" were advertised at the corner stand. It's named as such for the fact that seemingly every grocer uses it on their signs.

Examples: new's agent, crash repair's, sandwiche's, and (my new favorite) famou's.
posted by flatluigi at 7:26 PM on March 5, 2008


flatluigi, this thread is the fist hit because it's usually called the greengrocer's apostrophe.
posted by grouse at 12:24 AM on March 6, 2008


I'll take my (extremely) minor fame when I can get it.
posted by flatluigi at 3:27 AM on March 6, 2008


If someone has a sign that says something like:
Soylent Green: Now with more "girls"

where there are quotes uses to empasize text I call those grocers quotes, not the bonus apostrophe which flatluigi was pointing out. I am open to correction.
posted by shothotbot at 7:34 AM on March 6, 2008


from today's Daring Fireball, which links to this thread:

Did you know there were people who profess to prefer dumb quotes to proper ones? You only need working eyes to realize there are many people who don’t care, but to flat-out prefer them? But yet here’s a whole thread on Metafilter from anti-smart-quoters. These people should be issued IBM Selectrics and have their computers taken away.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:57 AM on March 6, 2008


D'OH!
posted by porn in the woods at 7:58 AM on March 6, 2008


I call those grocers quotes
They're not grocers' quotes, they're "scare" quotes, even if they're not always scary.
posted by bonaldi at 10:57 AM on March 6, 2008


Yeah, those are "scare" quotes. Even if the official name for grocers' quotes is "the greengrocers' apostrophe," I'd have to say I'd keep using the phrase "grocers' quotes," if only because of the assonance and brevity.
posted by flatluigi at 11:53 AM on March 6, 2008


flatluigi, if you are going to poke at others for misusing punctuation (in a way that is incorrect yet still communicative), you might want to take the plank out of your own eye first and stop misusing the word "quote" to refer to an apostrophe (in a way that confuses people who assume you are using the word "correctly").
posted by grouse at 12:10 PM on March 6, 2008


I'm fully aware that grocers' quotes aren't quotes, just like koala bears aren't bears. I'm sorry for any miscommunication; it's a bad habit of mine to refer to apostrophes as quotes.
posted by flatluigi at 2:01 PM on March 6, 2008


Koala bears are actually fish.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:36 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ministry of Type weighs in, in an eminently sensible fashion.

In the end, I would say that of course it is always preferable to use type correctly, but typography is the servant of meaning, not the master. If straight quotes, however much of a modern bastardisation of type they may seem, enhance the meaning of a piece (or if curved quotes would distract the reader), then you must use them. Otherwise, don’t.”
posted by zamboni at 12:10 PM on March 11, 2008


I both do and don't regret failing to comment in this thread sooner.
posted by cortex at 4:26 PM on March 11, 2008


I’m not going to correct the half-dozen or so factual errors made in the comments here. However, Michael Kaplan of Microsoft, at my request, explains that MS Word quotation marks are real Unicode characters. He fails to mention this was not always the case and still might not be if you open a document with an ancient character encoding.

Now that facts are out of the way, we turn to opinion. If you aren’t using real quotation marks where it is possible to do so (in short, everywhere outside US-ASCII E-mail messages and terminal commands), then you’re a philistine. The rejection of expertise in this post’s comments is especially troubling. Next you’ll be claiming that you can create an exclamation point by backspacing an apostrophe over a period.

I grant that Windows and Unix make it punishingly difficult to touch-type quotation marks, but I don’t have that problem.
posted by joeclark at 9:59 AM on March 12, 2008


If you aren’t using real quotation marks where it is possible to do so, then you’re a philistine.

If by "a philistine" you mean "not an anal-retentive pedant," then, yes, I agree with you.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:57 PM on March 12, 2008


I didn’t mean that, Sys Rq. Good job mixing my real apostrophes with neutral quotation marks. I’m not sure which one is tits and which is the bull.
posted by joeclark at 10:10 PM on March 12, 2008


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