Quotes & Accents
We all need to use them but hardly any of us know how to type them. Here is a brief guide of how to type smart quotes and accented characters (and dashes) on a Mac. If you have the latest OS you probably discovered that you can also find accented characters by holding down a letter to reveal its spicier cousins (I discovered this myself many times when attempting to type “heeeeeyyyyy” in an iChat window.). If you’re on a Windows computer or some nerdy space machine, I’d recommend googling “keyboard commands for accented characters”. If you use a non-English keyboard, you probably already know how to find all the accented characters you need. Made by Jessica Hische for your enjoyment and enlightenment.
These are dumb quotes: ‘ “
Don’t use dumb quotes for quotations or apostrophes—the nerds will revolt. Do use them as shorthand for feet / inches.
These are smart quotes: “ ” ‘ ’
They are also known by the cuter term “curly quotes”.
This is how you type smart quotes:
Left double quote:
option + [
Right double quote:
option + shift + [
Left single quote:
option + ]
Right single quote:
option + shift + ]
This is how you type accented characters:
Any letter with ˆ above it:
option + i then release and type the letter you want accented
Any letter with ´ above it:
option + e then release and type the letter you want accented
Any letter with ` above it:
option + ` then release and type the letter you want accented
Any letter with ¨ above it:
option + u then release and type the letter you want accented
Any letter with ˜ above it:
option + n then release and type the letter you want accented
To type an å:
option + a for lowercase
shift + option + a for uppercase
To type a ç:
option + c for lowercase
shift + option + c for uppercase
This is how you type (and when you use) different sorts of dashes:
Here is a really long wikipedia article of how to use various dashes and below is my own shorthand version adapted from that information. There are more kinds of dashes than those mentioned here but these are the ones you’re most likely to use and confuse.
A hyphen: -
You know how to make this.
Used to break single words into parts (like when lines of type break within a word) or to join separate words into single words.
I love me some hand-lettering.
An en dash: –
option + -
Used in dates to replace “to” or “and”. It can also be used to illustrate the relationship between two different words.
I was in jail from 1976–1978.
Mother–daughter beauty pageants make me uncomfortable.
I have a love–hate relationship with stretchy denim.
An em dash: —
option + shift + -
For a break of thought similar to but stronger than a thought contained within parentheses. An em dash can also be used where a period (or full-stop) seems too strong but a comma seems too weak. At times it can have a similar vibe to a colon. Some non-Americans use en dashes in place of em dashes and add a space before and after them.
I once had to use the bus station bathroom—horrifying.
I tried a durian fruit once—tasted like hamburger pudding.