Quotation Marks/Diamond Shapes � in Email

Last updated 09/29/2015 by Bethany Lang

Quotations Marks and Diamond Shapes in Email

Curved and straight quotes are also sometimes referred to as:

smart quotes: 

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and dumb quotes:

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They are named this way because many Word processors have code built in to take your quotation marks or apostrophes and transform your dumb quotes into smart quotes.

Supporting smart quotes has been a problem for email and web design primarily because of ASCII's misrepresentation of them which usually displays as a question mark, a diamond shape�, or some other unintended character. Those smart characters are often carried over into email documents from pasted word processor content that has smart quotes enabled. Those characters are subsequently misinterpreted when they exist within the context of an email.

The problem is that when the “smart quotes” feature is turned on, which some word processors use by default, the person building the email may not have realised that the ASCII-compatible straight quotes they were typing on their keyboards are interpreted as something entirely different in their email inbox; and it is not just the case for quotation marks. Having "smart quotes" turned on in your Word processor will convert opening apostrophes (such as in the words ’tis, ’em, and ’til) into opening single quotation mark - apostrophes that appear upside-down.

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If you use Word to design your emails, it is suggested that you turn smart quotes off.

To turn smart quotes off within Microsoft Word:

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Due to word processors' unique methods for defining style and layout, it is recommended that you never use them for web or email design.

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