The way that the Pages app handles straight and smart quotes is clunky and problematic. Is there a way to fix it? Here's the problem.

Update: I assumed when asking this question that "straight apostrophes" are correct even in styles where "curly quotes" are correct. On further research, however, I can't find examples of published works using this mix. This question and its answer (below) may still be of use to people with the same false assumption I had—if they exist.

If you disable smart quotes (via Settings > Auto-Correction -> "Use Smart Quotes and Dashes"), then apostrophes are placed correctly but double and single quotes are "straight". For example:

She said, "She's telling me, 'That's no moon.'"

If you enable smart quotes, the quotes are now all correct, but apostrophes (at "She's" and "That's") are now changed to curly quotes.

She said, “She’s telling me, ‘That’s no moon.’”

This is also incorrect. Correct would be to use curly quotes (double and single) but a "straight" apostrophe, thus:

She said, “She's telling me, ‘That's no moon.’”

An apostrophe is not the same as a single quote. In the interest of clarity, in terms of HTML what is correct would be (I've typed HTML here, though it may appear as normal text, but at least formatted correctly):

She said, “She's telling me, ‘That's no moon.‘”

The question, then, is: is there a setting in Pages that enables it to type English correctly, as many other word processors do; that is, to use curly quotes in general but to automatically recognize apostrophes and place them where appropriate? And to be clear, I'm not asking how to type straight apostrophes manually. I know that Ctrl+' will type a straight quote. If Pages required me to do that it would be the only word processor I know of that does so. I'm asking whether it knows how to do so automatically?

1 Answer 1


If I type your sentence into Adobe InDesign, Affinity Publisher, MS Word, or Pages, I get something very much like this in all of them:

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I have standard UK English language settings, and these apps have not been configured in any special way. I can find no additional settings to display curved quotes while still having straight apostrophes in any of them.

As you say, I can 'force' a straight apostrophe using CTRL ', and this for me works in Pages and other apps (but not in Word, interestingly).

However, in many years of working in book publishing and typesetting, I have never heard of the (desirable) practice of using straight marks for apostrophes.

Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers (OUP) gives clear examples of curved apostrophes in contractions; as do Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style and The Thames & Hudson Manual of Typography.

I have been unable to find any authority that commends it: most condemn it as a vestige from the use of typewriters.

Your assertion that it is "correct English" is, I'd suggest, not the prevailing view, which might explain why Pages, and other apps, don't follow it.

Changing the language to US English doesn't straighten apostrophes for me, so that would suggest that it's not local variation. (Also, I have many US books on my shelves and I cannot find a single one favoring this style.)

If you really wanted this, you could configure Auto-Correct with common words like won't, can't; so that the straight form would replace the typed form.

  • 2
    By Jove, you're right. I looked at a few published books from various eras in both the UK and US and none of them could confirm my feeling that a "straight" apostrophe is correct. My question is founded on a false premise. Mar 21 at 14:12

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