Converting quotation marks (single to double)

Is there a way to convert quotations marks from single to double, without replacing all?

Some of my drafts were written for readers in the UK, using the ‘single’ quotation marks around quotations. Others were for American readers, who expect the “double” quotation marks. I need to make them uniformly double.

If I replace-all, that will include all the apostrophes: can’t > can"t, for instance.

This is something I don’t see in the Manual or these forums, though is slightly related.


No, I’m afraid there’s nothing in Scrivener that will do this, although I would think that there would be a third-party tool that could do something like this (what about the Devon text soap tool or whatever it’s called, does that do anything like this?). Maybe someone here can recommend something.

Out of interest, though, why did you use single quotation marks for readers in the UK? Single quotation marks is just a stupid (in my opinion :slight_smile: ) publishing convention we have here (a teacher at school told me it was to save ink during WWII - I have no idea how true that is), but it’s not consistent - half the books on my shelves use double quotation marks (and not just American books, but books by British authors printed by British publishers too). No one in the UK writes using single-quotation marks for speech (and we certainly don’t teach it that way in schools - kids are taught to use double speech marks). I guess it’s just something that gets changed at the typesetting stage of the publishing process, depending on the publisher. Moreover, no one in the UK will generally notice which style you use, seeing as we write using double speech marks and are used to reading both forms. In fact, I really wish publishers would drop the single speech mark thing; it seems silly, especially seeing as you don’t see it anywhere but in printed books - UK newspapers, for instance, all use the double-speechmark to the best of my knowledge. Anyway, I’m sure you had good reasons and you did it based on much better publishing knowledge than I have, but I’m just curious!

All the best,

Many thanks, Keith. TextSoap may be the software you mean, but without paying for a licence I can’t really determine (from forums &c.) whether it could do this for me.

I wish I knew why I had used the ‘single’ quotation marks in the first instance. I did a graduate degree in the UK and was unduly influenced by reading a few too many books and articles that favoured that convention, I suppose. :blush: Wish I hadn’t, since (as you say, and as I’ve since learned) the single-quote convention (or “inverted comma”) is outmoded.


It seems to me that a suitably constructed series of search and replace operations could at at least much of the conversion work.

The trick would be to notice that almost all uses of the apostrophe will be between two alphabetic characters (unless you cleave to the tradition of placing a trailing apostrophe on names ending in ‘s’ to make the possessive), and almost all uses of quote marks will not be.

I don’t know about Scrivener, but in MS Word, say, you could search for occurrences of ’ with this string


and uniformly replace it with some unique dummy char. Backslash (’’), for example. Then search for the remaining occurrences of the single quote mark, replacing them with double-quotes. Finally, search for backslash and replace with apostrophe.

That should pretty much get it, I should think – unless, of course, there is some completely obvious and common use of these characters which I am not thinking of and which totally messes up this plan. Needless to say, use only a copy of your work to experiment with such transformations.


Well, plural possessives would mess this up, but maybe there’s a way around that? Hm.

the waiters’ tip pool


‘Send for the waiters’, she said.

Hmm. That is a sticking point. Can they be relied on to be proceeded by ‘s’ and followed by a non-alphabetic character? Unless the OP is in the habit of putting punctuation outside of quote marks, that would be enough of a distinguishing mark for a strategy.

Probably, but single quotes might also be followed by the same. Can closing single quotes be relied upon to always be preceded by a non-alphabetic character?

I’m inclined to try gr’s original solution (using ^$’^$ in MS Word) and then find-and-replacing any instances of s" with s’. Let’s see how that works.

Hm… Word says “^$ is not a valid special character for the Replace With box.” So I’ll have to try something else.

TextSoap is able to do this and the try-out version allows you to test it before paying. If they haven’t changed anything the only limitation in the try-out version is that there are no context menu items. (The registered version allows you to create a theoretically limitless number of cleaners which are available through a right-click.)

Another program that can do what you want is PTHPasteboard, a multiple clipboard application that allows customized filters which are applied while pasting.

TextSoap cleaners are way more powerful than PTHPasteboard filters, while the filters mean one step less as you apply them while pasting. Which of both comes more handy depends on what you do—if a text with, say, mixed types of quotations marks already exists you’d probably go for TextSoap. If you write a new one you might prefer to paste all excerpts from other sources via PTHPasteboard and have them in the right format on the fly.

I got both programs. When I first learned about TextSoap (about PTHPasteboard I found out later) I disapproved the idea of having to pay for just a search and replace function and I still find it a little pricey. But I found it indispensable.

I quote a lot reference material from various sources in various forms. And sometimes there are quotation marks in theses quotes already. In German we use the double quotation marks for quotes and the single ones for quotes within quotes.

Add the fact that in German there are two common types and one less common but very well in use type of typographical quotation marks, the apostrophe is yet another different character, and add the fact that some word processors (and users of word processors) which don’t do them right drop some English quotation marks into the already rich mix—I would go bonkers without a handy cleaner.

And it is great to have these cleaners available in all programs.

So I definitely recommend you to check both apps. You might find that the out of the box quotation mark replacing cleaners/filters don’t fully fit your needs. But if you know how to handle regular expressions you can easily tailor the cleaner you need.