Educating quotes

Hi Keith,

in some languages, like in Italian, apostrophe character (single quote) is used a lot and it”s always in the form of a single quote between two alphabetic characters. Whilst I like very much your fantastic primary-secondary-quotes-education feature I would suggest that users could choose if they want it to educate secondary quotes when they are inside two letters, or not. In other words if there is a phrase like [«He said: it’s your fault!»] it would remain like that instead of becoming [«He said: it”s your fault!»].


P.S: I scanned this forum for similar requests but I didn’t find any. I hope not being redundant…


Wouldn’t you still want that educated, though? With a curled apostrophe? Anyway, the next version allows you to choose “Automatic” instead of a particular language if you are on Leopard. This uses Leopard’s built-in smart quotes (such as in TextEdit) rather than Scrivener’s custom implementation. This will probably be a better option for some languages.

Thanks and all the best,

Hi thanks for your fast answer. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think it’s an issue about language. What I meant is just that with some languages you see that problem more than others. In fact the same thing is visible in English if you want to change to get [«] and [»] characters instead of ["] (you see, it’s not an issue about curl either). For example, in English you have locutions like can’t, don’t, it’s, etc. that would be changed the bad way both by Scrivener’s current implementation and by an automatic Leopard’s feature, without that exception, I’m afraid.

Do you see my point?

I’m afraid I don’t, because in can’t and won’t you would still want the smart quotes to affect the apostrophe:

can’t > can’t

won’t > won’t

This is actually correct, so you wouldn’t want smart quotes not to work between letters…

I’m sorry, I must be not explaining well my thought in your language and maybe I did some of a mess about exposing facts… :confused:

What I meant is that if you go in Preferences|Typography panel and select “activate typographer quotes”, then select Italian from Type’s drop-down listbox, then some software function will transform all of the single quote character you type in double quote characters and all of the double quotes character you type will be transformed in [«] and [»] characters. So, having you chosen Italian from that listbox, you will find letters [don"t] (read D,O,N, double-quotes, T) instead of the correct one [don’t] (read D, O, N, single-quote, T). The software function I ask for, would distinguish this special case in which when a user hits the single-quote key and then he hits some other alphabetical character and it would have not transformed single-quote character in the double-quotes one.

Does this make sense?


But if you choose Italian, the quotes are the same as in English - double quotes become curly double quotes and single quotes become curly single quotes. So “don’t” becomes “don’t” - which is correct. Perhaps you have changed the quotes in the boxes yourself so that single apostrophes are now being replaced with double ones?

Yes, I did. I have changed both double quotes and single quotes, as it happens automatically in German (print), Swedish, Russian, Finnish (print), and so on. If you set ‘type’ to one of these languages, you will see the same erroneous transformation: [don’t] becomes [don"t] and so on.

Sorry, but that’s simply not the case, as can be seen from the following settings:

In no case would [don’t] become [don"t] unless you had manually set it up so that the secondary quote type used double quotes. If you did that, then obviously you would see the behaviour you describe, because that’s not how it’s intended to work. With the above settings (which is how they are by default in Scrivener), you get the following results:

German (print) - [don’t] becomes [don<t]
Finnish (print) - [don’t] becomes [don>t]
Italian - [don’t] becomes [don’t]
Russian - [don’t] becomes [don>t]
Swedish (standard) - [don’t] becomes [don’t]

So, in none of the examples you cite does [don’t] become [don"t]. The typographer’s quotes system is actually based on that of Mellel - given that Mellel is renowned for its multilingual support, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to take a leaf out of their book for this feature. And I just double-checked Mellel and it works in exactly the same way… So I am a bit confused still as to the problem, but perhaps I am misunderstanding you.

All the best,

You’re right, how silly I am! Mostly because I’m making you waste some precious time instead of coding 1.5 version… (really, no irony here!)

I’m very sorry, I posted my messages before I fully reviewed them…

Anyway I meant that I get [don"t] instead of [don’t] because I changed the character in the boxes. And I would have added that I shouldn’t be the only one who has this problem, since the same problem (but with [don>t], for instance, instead of [don’t]) is common to other languages too.

Thanks for your wonderful support!!

Best regards,


So Keith,

do you think it is possible to have this misbehaviour corrected?

Best regards,


Sorry, I thought it wasn’t misbehaviour - I guess I still misunderstood you…

I’d really like to hear from other users, because this is the first I have heard of this being a problem, and there are lots of other users of other languages, and, as I say, Mellel works the same way…


If I were a russian I wouldn’t like to have [don>t] instead of [don’t]… Don’t you find it is a misbehaviour?

I changed quote characters in the boxes because in Italian books are like that:

«Hey! Don’t you think: “Scrivener alone is a major reason to buy a Mac…”, by any chance?»

and if you write that [Don’t] in another way it’s just wrong. I don’t know if russians have apostrophes in their language, but I bet that if they write their novel in a foreign language they would like to have the apostrophe looking like an apostrophe. However in Italian there are lots of apostrophes, and they are not secondary quotes. If Apple or Mellel or Scrivener behave otherwise their are wrong. In Italian in the majority of printed books, Primary Quotes are the double less-than and greater-than characters, Secondary Quotes are the double quote character ["], while, of course, apostrophe character [’] lives by its own.

If isn’t still clear, then it must be because of my English. So please if someone else has encountered my issue, take a moment to drop a line.


Scrivener alone is a major reason to buy a Mac. I really think of it, despite the quoting issue…

What happens if you don’t change the single quote in the boxes, so that you get your standard apostrophe that you need in Italian, but when you want the English-style educated double quote marks, you use the keyboard Opt-[ and Opt-{, which on an English keyboard at least give you “ and ”. I presume you use an Italian keyboard, so are those key-settings available. Changing the Scrivener “Educate quotes” should not affect those, I would hope, as they are set to enter the unicode for those characters directly.

For some purposes, I turn off smart quote and use the “Opt-whatever” keystrokes to enter the printer’s quotes, as I need the straight ones too, for instance for ’ feet and " inches.


I actually wonder how software could tell the difference between an apostrophe and a secondary quote anyway? In the case of “don’t” then yes, it is obvious. But what about when the apostrophe comes at the end of a word? Consider:

The soldiers’ uniforms. (Where “soldiers” is a plural.)
I know nothin’. (Where the apostrophe indicates the dropping of a letter.)

In such instances there is just no way to know the difference… Out of interest, how does Apple’s smart quotes work for Italian - in Pages, or in TextEdit on Leopard with smart quotes turned on via the Substitutions menu, for instance?


Could you please read again my last message, please? I’m not talking about the smartness quality of the characters [’] and ["]. And with regard to the software to distinguish about apostrophe and single quote I agree that this cannot be done always, e. g. with plural forms of saxon genitive (is it spelled like that?). But in Italian that simple rule I proposed in the very beginning of this thread. In Italian it doesn’t work either for every words, since there are some words that are truncated and therefore finish with an apostrophe (I use two or three of them).
Until now my solution is to make a search and replace all text along finding with a regular expression all occurences of an alphabetic character followed by a single-quote character followed by another alphabetic character. Then I search and replace those two or three words finishing with a single quote character.

Hmm, I think you may be misunderstanding the feature in a way. The primary quote is what gets substituted for the " on the keyboard. The secondary/alternative is what gets substituted for the ’ on the keyboard - double and single. So if you require two lots of double, then the secondary quote area actually isn’t the place for this. I do ask again, though - how is this handled in Pages, TextEdit or other programs? I would genuinely like to know the answer to that.

Both Pages and TextEdit don’t have such a feature, Pages just curls quotes. Mellel behaves just as Scrivener. So if I had to write fiction with Pages I should use opt-1 and opt-shift-1 to get respectively [«] and [»] characters. Until one year ago, when I used to use Windows and Word, I had some macros that could make the trick. I tried some macro software like Keyboard Maestro, but it seems I just have to learn some Applescript to do that in-between rule… That’s why, when I saw this feature in Scrivener I thought it could be my solution.

Thanks anyway.