How to Type Curly Quotes and Curly Apostrophes

Use keyboard shortcuts, HTML codes, or the Windows Character Map

To present a professional appearance in print or to meet the style guidelines of a client, use true typographer quotation marks and apostrophes in your desktop publishing documents. These true quotation and apostrophe marks are curled left and right, unlike the straight single and double quote marks that show on a keyboard's apostrophe key.

Access and properly use curly quotation marks — also called smart quotes — and proper apostrophes on a Mac or Windows PC, through one of several methods.

The procedures we outline below work on all currently supported versions of Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS.

Smart Quotes in Microsoft Word

Many software programs, including Microsoft Word, include settings to enable or disable straight quotes or smart (curly) quotes automatically as you type. If you do not have that option activated in your software, you can make the change as you type.

Make Smart Quotes on Windows

To manually insert smart quotes, your keyboard must have a numeric keypad. "Num lock" must be activated. To use the numeric codes, hold down the Alt key and type the four-digit character code on your numeric keypad.

  • Use ALT+0145 and ALT+0146 for the left and right single quotation mark or apostrophe, respectively. 
  • Use ALT+0147 and ALT+0148 for the left and right double quotation marks, respectively.

Use the numeric keypad and not the row of numbers above the alphabet; the top number row will not work for this procedure.

Microsoft Windows character map

If your keyboard lacks a numeric keypad, use the Character Map instead. To launch it, press Win+R and type charmap in the Run box. When it opens, find the character you want to insert then press Select. Press Copy when all the characters you want to add have been selected. The great thing about Character Map is that it supports all possible glyphs within a typeface, not just the ones easily accessible from the keyboard.

Create Smart Quotes on Mac

To manually insert smart quotes, type the following keys simultaneously.

  • Type Option+] and Shift+Option+] for the left (open) and right (closed) single quote mark or apostrophe, respectively.
  • Type Option+[ and Shift+Option+[ for the left and right curved double quotation marks, respectively.

Add Smart Quotes to Web Pages

Web typography works a little differently. Smart quotes do not always work well on the web, so straight quotes are used a lot.

However, if you want to add curly quotes to HTML code, do the following:

  • For the character for the curly single opening quote mark (or apostrophe)use ‘ and ’, respectively.
  • For the character for the curly opening and closing double quotation marks, use “ and ”, respectively.

Oversized curly quotes add interest to pull-quotes in articles or general information pages.

Quick Reference Guide to Keyboard Shortcuts

Mark Description Windows Mac HTML
' Straight single apostrophe ' ' '
" Straight double quote " " "
Opening single apostrophe alt+0145 option+] ‘
Closing single apostrophe alt+0146 option+shift+] ’
Opening double quote alt+0147 option+[ “
Closing double quote alt+0148 option+shift+[ ”

More About That Straight Apostrophe Key

Straight quotes come to us from the type­writer. In print­ing and typesetting, all quo­ta­tion marks were curly. But type­writer char­ac­ter sets were lim­ited by me­chan­i­cal con­straints and phys­i­cal space. By re­plac­ing the curly open­ing and clos­ing quotes with am­bidex­trous straight quotes, two slots be­came avail­able for other characters.

The straight marks on the apostrophe key are also called primes. You can use the single straight mark for feet and minutes and the double mark for inches and seconds, as in 1'6" for 1 foot, 6 inches or 30'15" for 30 minutes, 15 seconds.