Burger King Botched the Curling on an Apostrophe in a TV Commercial and I Am Very Much Here to Shit on Them for Doing So

John Kelly, writing for The Washington Post:

The ad was for a Whopper Jr. promotion. The conceit was that you could get two of the baby burgers for a mere $5: one for you and one for a friend. But — spoiler alert! — you’d probably want to consume the pair yourself. Or, as the text on the screen put it:


I grabbed my remote, rewound, paused and took a photo. This was the Zapruder film to me, even if the JK stood for “Just kidding,” not “John Kelly.”

This must not stand, or — to keep with the theme — it mustn’t stand.

This sort of mistake drives me nuts, and I spot such wrongly-curled apostrophes instantly. To me it’s as glaring a mistake as a misspelled word. So god bless Kelly for griping about it in a column in The Washington Post. (I’d argue that perhaps it’s correct for Burger King to use the wrong apostrophe, as a signifier of the care with which they prepare their food.)

But Kelly doesn’t mention the obvious explanation for how this happens: automatic smart quote algorithms that aren’t smart enough, in the hands of ignorant designers who don’t have an eye for typography. If you type:

'em' dashes and 'en' dashes

you want the apostrophe before em to be an opening single quote, the one shaped like a 6 in most typefaces. But if you type:

screw 'em

you want the apostrophe preceding the em to be a closing single quote, the one shaped like a 9. The various “smart quotes” algorithms you get while typing aren’t smart enough to make this contextual distinction — even very good ones — so you need to do it by hand. Here’s how to type them manually:

Mac Windows Linux
Open single quote: ‘ Option-] Alt-0-1-4-5 Use ASCII
Close single quote: ’ Shift-Option-] Alt-0-1-4-6 Use ASCII
Open double quote: “ Option-[ Alt-0-1-4-7 ✊🍆
Close double quote: ” Shift-Option-[ Alt-0-1-4-8 Shift-✊🍆

Monday, 9 October 2023