Dumb quotes are punctuation marks that look the same whether they are opening or closing a quotation. They are straight quotation marks that resembled teardrops. Smart quotes that open a quotation or title appear as solid “66s", while closing ones look like “99s".
When the typewriter was still prevalent, straight quotes helped reduce the number of keys on the keyboard, and the computer keyboard followed suit. However, many prefer the look of smart quotes in printed text. Microsoft Word incorporated this look by using a built-in function to automatically replace dumb quotes sent from the keyboard. The software can determine whether the instance calls for opening or closing quotes.
Smart quotes interjected with software created problems for markup languages used on the World Wide Web. The ASCII character set that formed the foundation for cross-platform compatibility did not include smart quotes, so the editors used to build Web pages did not understand the symbols and would display improperly instead. The newer Unicode character set includes smart quote support, so this creates a problem less often. However, many older character sets that do not support smart quotes are still in use.
To solve the problem, extended expressions of smart quotes are sometimes used in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) to make sure the marks translate correctly. This is also the case for Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). The long expressions are as follows:
|Opening double smart quotes||&ldquo|
|Closing double smart quotes||&rdquo|
|Left single smart quote||&lsquo|
|Right single smart quote||&rsquo|
|Apostrophe smart quote||&sbquo|
|XML and SGML|
|Opening double smart quotes||“|
|Closing double smart quotes||”|
|Single opening smart quote||‘|
|Single closing smart quote||’|
Using long expressions will ensure that your smart quotes reproduce on a webpage in true form. They should also ensure cross-platform compatibility between applications or language editors. These marks are also referred to as book quotes. While many prefer the way they look, others believe these little punctuation marks are more trouble than they are worth and should be eliminated.