Copy Editor’s Corner | Blogpostapostrophe

Copy Editor’s Corner | Blogpostapostrophe

As copy editors, we work with words day in and day out, and we sometimes forget how confusing proofreading marks, punctuation, and style rules can be. Lately, a rash of people have been puzzled by a common mark, the apostrophe.

Which direction does an apostrophe point?

What do you mean by a “smart” apostrophe?

How do I fix a backward apostrophe?

Getting most of our information on the Internet means we sometimes run across characters copy editors would itch to mark up. Since an apostrophe doesn’t always properly paste into HTML from a Word document, it can show up online as a straight mark (more like an inch mark).

But an apostrophe should have a curled look (a “smart” apostrophe), and point in only one direction:

An apostrophe imposter is the single opening quote mark, which is also curly but faces the opposite direction. It can be tricky when two apostrophes appear in, say, “rock ’n’ roll.” To avoid being wrongly auto-corrected by your word processor and forced to use a single opening quotation mark where an apostrophe belongs, you can either insert it as a character or type two apostrophes in a row and delete the one you don’t need.



Alison Dotson