Punctuation: Apostrophe versus open single quote

August 23, 2007: Issue 201

Universal health care, gay marriage, global warming—all piddly little issues, really. We’re voting for the candidate who can get an apostrophe right.

Just as it signals that letters have been left out of a contraction, an apostrophe shows that numerals have been left out of a year: can’t instead of cannot, ’08 instead of 2008. But most software automatically turns an apostrophe after a space into an opening single quote. When you type ’08, it assumes you mean ‘08. You can see the sad result all over campaign buttons and bumper stickers.

To force the apostrophe in Word or InDesign, type option-shift-].

WINNERS: Congratulations to M.J. Caswell, Luke Miller, Deb Wagman, and Gabrielle Wathne, who found our clues and won prop sale gift certificates. And thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate our 200th issue.

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