Smart Quotes get confused by an emdash

The following sequence of characters confuses Scrivener when smart quotes are on:


that is: “emdash, quote, text, quote” produces two ‘nine’ quotes, rather than a six and then a nine. This holds whether you’re using single quotes or double quotes.

A current workaround is to put the emdash in after you write the quotation, but naturally this is not optimal.

God knows I’m a dash abuser, but I always thought a space was required after an emdash in any case. Apparently I’m wrong—anyone interested in the issue might want to take a gander at considering the dash.

There will be certain situations that confuse quotes and dashes - this is true in Word, too, as it goes, although not in this particular case.

I put a space in after a dash, make my quote, then hit the back arrow and delete the space. Then I have my nice little smart quote, just as it should be. It’s quick and I’m used to it now. This is true for most programs I use. It’s the standard in my circles to have no spaces before or after dashes, but I know (now) that is not true for everyone by any means!

I try to avoid overusing the em dash—as you can see I’m not all that successful!—and this helps me do that. To a point. I seem to really like using em dashes in my non-fiction writing.

I always put in a space before and after em dashes just because it’s easier for me to read. Years ago, with my first book, I didn’t take those spaces out and when I received the bluelines, I saw that my editor had diligently closed up every one. Next MS, I made sure there were no em dash spaces in the final. :smiley:

Word has the issue with a closing quote after a dash (it puts in a second opening quote) and I have to use a shortcut to insert a closing quote. Is it a system-wide issue?

It’s not so much a system-wide issue; more that it is nearly impossible to tell a computer program how to respond to punctuation in every single case - you would have to teach it to understand English! On reflection, although I put this on my list to look at, I think I will leave it as it is, because this could go either way, depending on context, and Scrivener won’t be able to guess which one you want but will have to opt for one. For instance, consider this:

“I thought you said–”
“What the–”

And so on. It is a common convention to show that speech is cut off with an em-dash followed by closing quotes. I would think this would come up more often than an em-dash preceding speechmarks.

Remember that you can easily change the speechmarks in Scrivener anyway. If you didn’t get the speechmarks you wanted, just hold shift & back arrow to select the speechmark, then type the speechmark again. This toggles through the three types of speechmarks. When you get the one you want, you can just hit the forward arrow to continue typing. This is probably easier than typing the space then going back to remove it. Note that this also works for hyphens - you can toggle through a normal hyphen and an em-dash and e-dash.

All the best,

Never noticed this before. Seems odd but useful. Tnx for the tip.