Changing the Appearance of Quotation Marks in Microsoft Word

Straight vs. curly quotes makes a difference in the final document's appearance

Quotation marks written on paper.

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To help you produce great-looking documents, Microsoft loaded Word with smart quotes, a feature that automatically changes straight quotation marks to typographer’s quotes as you type. The curly smart quotation marks curl toward text they precede and away from text they follow. While this feature makes for a nice printed document and attractive headlines, it can be troublesome if your work is going to be used electronically, where straight quotation marks are preferred — particularly with computer-code listings.

This article covers all currently supported desktop versions of Microsoft Word.

How to Toggle Smart Quotes On and Off

Decide which type of quotation marks you want in your document before you begin. Toggle smart quotes on or off to control the appearance of all quotations marks that are entered into the document after the change is made.

word options

Click File > Options to open the Word Options tool, then click AutoCorrect Options from the Proofing tab. Older versions of Word use the Tools > Autocorrect menu command, instead. Either way, you'll open the AutoCorrect dialog box.

Autocorrect options in word

In this box, from the AutoFormat As You Type tab, toggle Straight quotes with smart quotes to set or un-set this option. This setting doesn't affect quotation marks that have already been entered in the document.

Changing Existing Quotation Mark Style

If you've already done a considerable amount of work on your document and you want to change the quotation style in the existing portion of the document, use the Ctrl+H shortcut key to open the Find and Replace dialog box.

Enter " in both the Find what and Replace with boxes. Click Replace All to convert all quotation marks in the document to your preferred style.

This procedure won't work if you haven't set the AutoCorrect setting to correct straight to smart quotes.

This process works for both single and double quotes, although you need to do separate replace operations, selecting the appropriate options for each. Microsoft Word uses your preference on current and future documents until you make a change in the AutoCorrect section.