The Atlantic

Has the Internet Killed Curly Quotes?

Web publications tend to favor straight quotation marks, a pragmatic approach to typography that old-school stylists can’t stand.
Source: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

The trouble with being a former typesetter is that every day online is a new adventure in torture. Take the shape of quotation marks. These humble symbols are a dagger in my eye when a straight, or typewriter-style, pair appears in the midst of what is often otherwise typographic beauty. It’s a small, infuriating difference: "this" versus “this.”

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

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