Glenn Fleishman: ‘Has the Internet Killed Curly Quotes?’

Glenn Fleishman, writing for The Atlantic:

Many aspects of website design have improved to the point that nuances and flourishes formerly reserved for the printed page are feasible and pleasing. But there’s a seemingly contrary motion afoot with quotation marks: At an increasing number of publications, they’ve been ironed straight. This may stem from a lack of awareness on the part of website designers or from the difficulty in a content-management system (CMS) getting the curl direction correct every time. It may also be that curly quotes’ time has come and gone.

Major periodicals have fallen prey, including those with a long and continuing print edition. Not long ago, Rolling Stone had straight quotes in its news-item previews, but educated them for features; the “smart” quotes later returned. Fast Company opts generally for all “dumb” quotes online, while the newborn digital publication The Outline recently mixed straight and typographic in the same line of text at its launch. Even the fine publication you’re currently reading has occasionally neglected to crook its pinky.

I solved this problem with SmartyPants back in November 2002, three months after starting Daring Fireball. The key appeal of SmartyPants is that you can keep your source prose in dumb ASCII — the transformation to proper typographic punctuation occurs in the output.

Unsurprisingly, the third post ever published on Daring Fireball was devoted to the topic. Over 26,000 posts later, I just fixed a few broken links in that post to point to versions of those pages cached by the amazing Internet Archive.

Thursday, 29 December 2016