How to Type Quotes, Apostrophes, & Primes

Avoid the look of an amateur by properly using typographer’s quotation marks (curly quotes) and apostrophes and primes in your desktop published documents.


Here's How:

1.      Don't use the ' and ' (Shift + ') marks on your keyboard for proper quotations and apostrophes [ ‘ ’ “ ” ].

2.      On a Mac, use Option+] and Shift+Option+] for the left (open) and right (closed) single quotes.

3.      On a Mac, use Option+[ and Shift+Option+[ for the left and right double quotes.

4.      For Windows, use ALT+0145 and ALT+0146 for the left and right single quotes.

5.      For Windows, use ALT+0147 and ALT+0148 for the left and right double quotes.

6.      In HTML code the characters as for ‘ and for ’ and for “ and for ”

7.      Called primes, use the upright tick mark ' for feet and minutes and ' for inches and seconds as in 1'6' (1 foot, 6 inches) or 30'15' (30 minutes, 15 seconds).



1.      Many programs offer an option to automatically (as you type or on demand) convert all ' and ' marks to typographer’s quotation marks. Use it to speed up the task but be careful about converting primes used to designate measurements.

2.      Oversized curly quotes can add interest to pull-quotes in your design.

3.      When using the ALT keystrokes in Windows, use the keypad not the row of numbers above the alphabet and be sure Num Lock is turned ON.


How to Create and Use Dashes and Hyphens

One mark of professionally set type is the use of hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. Each is a different size and has its own proper usage.


Here's How:

1.      The size of the en and em dashes is roughly equivalent to the width of the lowercase n and m, respectively, for the typeface in which they are used.

2.      The en dash (–) is primarily for showing duration or range as in 9:00–5:00 or 112–600 or March 15–31.

3.      The em dash (—) is the proper dash to use in place of single or double hyphens as punctuation. Similar to a parenthetical phrase (like this) the em dash sets apart clauses in a sentence.

4.      The hyphen is for hyphenating words and to separate characters in a phone number (123-555-0123).

5.      Create an en dash with Option-hyphen (Mac) or Alt-0150 (Windows).

6.      Create an em dash with Shift-Option-hyphen (Mac) or Alt-0151 (Windows).

7.      Create an en dash in HTML with – (ampersand pound sign 0150 semi-colon).

8.      Create an em dash in HTML with — (ampersand pound sign 0151 semi-colon).



1.      Sometimes the en and em dashes for a typeface are too small, large, or poorly spaced to be visually pleasing. Manually reducing or kerning them can improve their appearance.

2.      A hyphen is usually shorter and thicker than the en dash. - – —