What are curly quotes?

+5 votes
129 views

What is a “curly quote” in Wikitree parlance?  Whenever I do a “repeated use” source in a profile an error message pops up when I try to save saying that <ref> tags must not use “curly” quotes around the name.  The Wikitree instructions say that in this example:  <ref name = “birth certificate”> the quotation marks are to be quotation marks, not two apostrophes.  I don’t know how else to make an actual quotation mark other than using the one on my keyboard, which is apparently a curly quote(?).  Or is this a mislabeled error and I'm doing something else wrong? When I get this error message I save anyway, but I’m confused and am hoping I’m not creating a bunch of errors to be corrected later.

WikiTree profile: Polly Fraim
in WikiTree Help by Alene Kremer G2G1 (1.2k points)
Are you cutting and pasting your sources/references into the profile editor?

When I looked at the above profile, I saw double quotation marks that are slanted.  If you see double quotes marks that are slanted, you will need to backspace them out and re add them.  That will fix the problem.

For some reason,"smart" (aka slanted) double quotation marks are not liked by the profile editor.
I toggled off the curly quotes option of my text editor, because I read about this issue early on.

I've gone through and changed the quotes to straight ones, because that was easier than trying to show you the difference, but you should be able to see it in the change logs.  (And I took so long doing it you now have 2 answers and another comment.)

Just look for "pension" and "1880census".

2 Answers

+11 votes
 
Best answer
Curly quotes are the curse of Microsoft, and the bane of any programmer.

Curly quotes are the quotation marks used in good typography. There are four curly quote characters: the opening single quote ( ‘ ), the closing single quote ( ’ ), the opening double quote ( “ ), and the closing double quote ( ” ).

They are completely different from the standard ASCII characters used for single ( ' ) and double ( " ) quotes. These are the typical characters generates from your keyboard (when not using a fancy word processor)

If you zoom in, you'll notice they have a slight curl or slant to them, compared to the standard straight quotes.

Most websites/programing languages can't deal with curly quotes. Most word processors may auto-convert straight quotes into curly quotes, trying to be typographically helpful. (you can find settings to turn that feature on/off)
by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (537k points)
selected by Gaile Connolly
Are you saying that (usually) it's a word processor and the various stylized fonts that make the curly quotes whereas straight quotes come from our standardized keyboards?  If I'm interpreting this correctly that would explain a lot...  :-)
How the quotes appear is determined by the font used.  It's not Microsoft itself that controls the quote characters - it's the word processor's default font that you can - if you wish - select, although most start with the default of a fancy enough font that differentiates between start and end quotes.  WikiTree's database (as most databases) does not use field content to determine display font face - there are other ways that the font face used on the web page is determined and WikiTree's edit page can only display the single character for start and end of the quotes, whether they are single or double.  If you store the left or right version of a quote in the database then it cannot be interpreted when the page using that data item is rendered.

I find the easiest solution is, if I am composing something in a word processor and want to paste it into an edit field, I will first open a text editor (like Windows Notepad) and paste my content in there, then copy it from there to paste into the WikiTree edit box.  The text editor will not choke on the curly quotes, but will automatically convert them to the straight quotes.

EDITED:  Leigh Anne, the same key produces the start and end quotes, as you realize when you use the same key to type these things.  It's the word processor's ability to interpret when a quote mark is starting and when it is ending the section that you're quoting - if the font face you're using includes what is called "smart quotes", then it will automatically convert the quote character you typed to either the start or end version.  These use different ASCII codes, though, so when the WikiTree engine is producing the web page from the database content, it does not know what to do with those characters - therein lies the problem.

Got it -- thanks to you all for the great suggestions!  It always amazes me how the smallest things can create such time-consuming problems. Maybe this issue could be noted on the error message -- e.g. "to correct the problem try retyping any copied quotation marks using the Wikitree editor."

Microsoft 'Word' has an option in the setting to 'turn on / off' smart quotes, so if you are using that program, you need to make sure that is turned off.
Thanks -- found it.  Just in case anyone else is having the same problem, in the Word version I'm using the path is: Options/Proofing/AutoCorrect Options/AutoCorrect dialog box/AutoFormat As You Type tab; then clear the smart quotes checkbox.
Gaile, small correction to your comment ..... it has nothing to do with the font. Its the encoding. As I'm sure you know, its the binary codes that are different. And Microsoft invented this particular encoding: Windows-1252
+4 votes
In spite of the error message... it appears that your ref tags are still rendering correctly (though I would not have expected that).
by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (537k points)

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