Minor issue with dahes and quotes (RC16)

RC16 is the first beta I have tried in any seriousness. Mostly working fine but I did notice a small niggle.

If I create an em dash (by writing two hyphens) and then follow it with a quote, the em dash correctly replaces the hyphens but the quotes are placed in the wrong orientation (for example, if the em dash finishes the sentence in speech, then the quotes appear to open speech rather than close it). The workaround right now is to close the speech first and then add the em dash afterwards.

Mac Scrivener does the same thing. So does Word, if you’re not careful to change a silly option:


(I didn’t test whether changing the option actually fixes things, since I don’t use Word.)

I recommend using TextExpander or a comparable text expansion app so that when I type ;- in most apps, TextExpander replaces it with — ” (em-dash, non-breaking space, and closing curly quote).

(Leave out the space if you prefer, but I like the AP style with spaces on both sides of an em-dash.)

I have a similar snippet that does the same thing for ellipse, resolving to …, non-breaking space, and closing curly quote.

I don’t think any word processor gets curly quotes right. If you shorten “because” to “’cuz”, Word makes the wrong curly … but a TextExpander snippet makes it come out right. It’s also handy for getting diacritical marks, spell corrections, bizarre character names, and a thousand other things.

Thanks for the response. The reason I made the report is because it actually works correctly in Scrivener which is what I used for my main projects at this time.

I believe this issue was raised elsewhere, and it was explained that this is actually a deliberate shift, for the purpose of matching behaviours with all other software – thus, it’s technically v.1.9 that’s incorrect, and the beta that’s ‘correct’.

(As someone who frequently tries to close dialogue with em-dashes, I much prefer the old behaviour too, so I’m with you on finding it a problem… but as I understand from other discussions on this issue, on a technical level it’s not actually one.)

It sounds like you’re all on Mac, but just a quick note for Windows users:

  • On Windows, Word correctly uses close quotes following an emdash.
  • Windows-native autocorrect mechanisms don’t help, because they only work for a specifi c type of Windows app (UWP).
  • There is a TextExpander version for Windows, but I only found it available as a subscription (not an expensive one, but still…)
  • PhraseExpress, an alternative to TextExpander, while kind of a sledgehammer for this purpose, does work to turn that emdash open quote into emdash close quote, and there are both free and buy-once versions.

TextExpander solves a great many prablems, not just this one. I think it’s worth the price. PhraseExpress is probably worth the trouble as well.