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Can't close quotes with em-dash.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Xanados, Jan 7, 2012.

  1. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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    “I’m going to run upstairs and—“
    “I told him that I’d break his—“


    These are just two random examples. Why can't I close qoutes with an em dash?
    I want a character to simply interrupt another, but I just can't seem to close the quote.
     
  2. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    Nope can't do it either. It will work though, if you put the quote mark in, then use the arrow key to go back and plonk the dash in before it, but, it seems to turn out as an n-dash though.
     
  3. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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    Hm... why is it so hard to produce? It's used in many books :/
     
  4. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    I think it may be the auto-correct or auto-format function and I can't find a way to turn it off. On the older versions of Word there was a list that you could access and edit, deleting the ones you don't want and adding ones you do want, but I can't seem to find it on the 2007 version.

    Perhaps someone will be able to point us in the right direction...
     
  5. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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    I just right clicked an em-dash I created and found auto-correct. Not sure what to click now, though.
    Edit: hover just below the dash and you'll get the auto-correct menu.. Not sure what to do now.
     
  6. Depends on what program you're using, but this is what I do in OpenOffice:

    “Words words words–“”

    Typing another double-quote after the opening one will create a closing one. Then I go back one space and delete the unnecessary opening quote.

    Another possibility is to just copy and paste a close-quote from somewhere else in your document.
     
  7. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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    Why are these tricks even necessary when this is something used in actual fiction?
     
  8. My guess is because authors, historically, didn't ever actually type an em dash followed by a close double quote when writing. They typed this:

    Code:
    "Bob said--"
    Typewriters didn't have directional quote keys nor an em dash key. It was in the printing process where nondirectional quotes were turned into directional quotes, and a double-hyphen was turned into a em dash.

    I don't know why that persists into modern word processors; there's no real technical reason why the smart quotes logic couldn't put a close double quote after an em dash the same way they do after a period, comma, or question mark. It probably wouldn't be too hard to track down who wrote the OpenOffice code that deals with smart quotes and ask them; although they might just say that they made it mimic what Word does, and then you'd have to figure out why Word does that, which would probably be a lot harder.

    If you find it happening a lot, make a macro to insert a close double quote, or just make it a habit of keeping a close double quote on the clipboard. Or, ignore it, and later on do a search-and-replace for the sequence "em dash, open double quote" and change it to "em dash, close double quote." Or for all I know there's a Word option that lets you change it, but I don't use or have Word so I can't check. I've done the extra quote/backspace trick so many times now, it just became a reflex after a while.
     
    Xanados likes this.
  9. Taytortots

    Taytortots Minstrel

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    I use Open Office and don't have a problem. I don't know if it's because I've changed something and don't remember or what.
    My suggestion would be to, instead of using the 66 and 99 quotes, you use the typical " quotes, so that they are the same wherever you put them. I know you can change them, but I'm unsure how for word.
     
  10. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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    That is an option but, quite frankly, I dislike the look of them.
     
  11. mythique890

    mythique890 Sage

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    I've wondered about that, too. My solution was to do em dash, comma, close quote then delete the comma. It's a pain, but I don't use em dashes very often, so not that big of a deal.

    I just checked, and here's sort of a solution (how to get straight quotes): Open Word 2007, click on the Windows icon in the upper left corner, click on "Word Options" at the very very bottom of the list, click "Proofing" on the list on the left, click "Autocorrect Options" button, click "Autoformat as you type" tab, and then uncheck the box that says "Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes" under the heading Replace as you type. It won't give you a closed quote after the em dash, but it will give you the all-over straight quotes that Taytortots suggested.

    EDIT:
    I just googled it, and it doesn't look like there's a permanent solution that I could find for Word 2007. So it's either straight quotes or typing an extra character before the quote then deleting it. But there's got to be someone out there who's better with computers than me and can find something.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2012
  12. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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    Indeed, putting in an extra character and then deleting it works, but it's a hassle. I feel sorry for somone who has a lot of character interaction and commotion in their story.
     
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