Straight Quotes to Smart Quotes Converter
Using dumb quotes makes you look dumb. And nobody wants to look dumb. That’s why we created this online dumb quotes to smart quotes converter. With its help, you’ll look smart. Learn more or, if you already know what you’re doing, dive right in:
What’s the difference between smart quotes, dumb quotes, and straight quotes? And which ones should I be using?
You should be using smart quotes. They’re the curved versions that open and close around a quotation, helping the reader to better understand what’s going on. Straight quotes are, as their name suggests, just plain ol’ straight up-and-down versions of the single and double quote, the same character whether you’re opening or closing a quotation. They can get confusing for readers and they look unprofessional. Dumb quotes are the same exact thing as straight quotes. Same thing, two names. You can see examples in the table below.
Dumb quotes sound bad. Why do they even exist?
Well, when the modern typewriter keyboard was developed, they decided that it wasn’t worth using up two keys and so the straight quote was born. And then, in the early days of computing, many charsets didn’t support the smart quotes, so developers suggested that everyone continue using the straight quotation marks. But now that pretty much the whole world has adopted UTF-8, we’re safe to once again use the correct characters.
UTF-huh? What’s that?
Sorry, we slipped into nerdspeak there. UTF-8 is a character set that handles all of the Unicode characters, including smart quotation marks, so that your website visitors, email readers, etc. will see the characters as intended, not as little square boxes that would appear if you tried to use them in an ASCII environment.
I heard that smart quotes are bad for SEO. Is that true?
There were SEO concerns about using smart quotes in the early days of the internet and, while they were valid back then, we did some testing and came to the conclusion that smart quotes no longer negatively affect a website’s SEO value.
So, how does this straight quote to smart quote tool work?
First, it goes through and finds all <html> tags, setting them aside because, in HTML tags, you actually should be using straight quotes. <a href="http://example.com/"> is correct, but <a href=“http://example.com/”> will thrown an error. (Two errors, actually.)
Next, it looks for contractions like shouldn’t, wouldn’t, and couldn’t and changes their straight apostrophes into closing single quotation marks. It does the same for possessives ending in S, like Dallas’ mayor.
With those out of the way, the tool counts up all the straight single quotes and all the straight double quotes, making sure that there are even numbers of each. If there’s not, it will return an error, letting you know what needs to be fixed. (Note: If you’re converting straight to smart, it will leave any existing smart quotes as is and won’t include them in the count.) With an even number of double and single quotes, the tool can then go through and change every other one to opening or closing marks, as appropriate.
This isn’t bulletproof, but we’ve been using the logic behind this tool for years and have found it to be pretty effective. (If you do find that it’s messing something up, please let us know so that we can improve the tool.)
Are there any exceptions?
Of course there are exceptions! This is English, the wackiest of all languages, after all. Characters called primes are used for things like height in feet and inches and map coordinates written out in degrees minutes seconds format. Our tool handles the heights (example: the bridge clearance is 12′6″), but you’re on your own with the map coordinates. Change them into primes yourself or save yourself the headache and just use decimals.
What about smart quotes to straight quotes? Can the tool do that?
Sure. That’s easy. If you select the smart to straight option, all curved double and single quotes, will be converted to their straight equivalents. (Primes are left as is.) And, as with the other conversion, anything within <html> tags will be ignored.
Back to the charset stuff, is there anything special I need to do to make sure I’m using UTF-8 on my website?
There is… If you’re composing an HTML document, you should include a meta tag like this near the very top:
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">And, if you’re working in PHP, you should define the character set via the HTTP header too by including something like this in your PHP code:
header('Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8');There are plenty of other languages and such, but we won’t get into all of them. Instead, we’ll just remind you that most desktop text editors let you set the charset when you save your files. It’s important to make sure that you’re using UTF-8 there, as well.
If I can’t include the meta tag or HTTP header, is there any way to include smart quotation marks without them getting garbled?
Yes! You can use HTML entities like “ and ” to display them. It’s a bit of extra effort, but it’ll work. Here’s a table with all of the quotation mark characters and their corresponding entities:
|Opening quotation mark|
Left angle quotation mark
|Closing quotation mark|
Right angle quotation mark
|Opening single quotation mark|
Left single quote
Closing single quotation mark
Right single quote
|Straight quotation mark|
Double straight quote
Single straight quote
Are there keyboard shortcuts?
You bet. The folks over at smartquotesforsmartpeople.com (which might just be my favorite domain name ever) have a handy list of the shortcuts for Mac, Windows, and Ubuntu systems.
Your straight quotes to smart quotes tools is so far up the page and I hate scrolling. Is there a shortcut?
Right this way, please.
No, that just about covers it.