iOS Curly Quotes and Apostrophe Annoyances

Butterick’s Practical Typography

Straight quotes are the two gener­ic ver­ti­cal quo­ta­tion marks lo­cat­ed near the re­turn key: the straight sin­gle quote (’) and the straight dou­ble quote (").

Curly quotes are the quo­ta­tion marks used in good ty­pog­ra­phy. There are four curly quote char­ac­ters: the open­ing sin­gle quote (‘), the clos­ing sin­gle quote (’), the open­ing dou­ble quote (“), and the clos­ing dou­ble quote (”).

Reading through Butterick’s guide reminded me of something that has bothered me since I got an iPhone back in iOS 3 days. I know this is an issue that only I and about 3 other nerds care about, but this is one area where iPhone typography should absolutely be better. There’s really no excuse for the piss-poor implementation of quotes and apostrophes. Curly quotes should be standard, but they’re not. If you dictate to Siri, she’ll give you straight quotes and apostrophes, assuming she understands what you said instead of another butter bear lollypop and stops [1].

Even worse, the keyboard shows you curly quotes and apostrophes, but inputs straight quotes by default. You can get the proper curly versions by tapping and holding to select from a pop-up menu (which works for inputting all kinds of diacritical marks and alternate versions of various letters) but the deception still makes me almost irrationally annoyed sometimes.

I’ve fixed most of the problems by going to Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts > and creating custom shortcuts with the proper typography. For example, I’ve set it so that typing illl corrects to I’ll, but it’s hard to cover all cases without making a comprehensive list, which you then have to painfully type into your iPhone one at a time. I’ve added other corrections occasionally as they’ve come up, but sometimes I just don’t have the time or inclination to make the correction right then.

I’m annoyed all over again when one of those usages comes up and I have to press and hold just to get a symbol that should be automagically input for me, or that should just be the primary input by default since programmers are pretty much the only people who need the straight versions, and they would presumably know how to get them when they want them. Normal people tricked by the iOS keyboard bait-and-switch…not so much.


  1. Not an actual Siri word-salad, but most definitely inspired by some of her more entertaining mistakes.  ↩