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Quotation Magic


This tool is included in TransTools Professional Edition.

Category: Quality AssuranceBack to Quality Assurance section

Every language uses a set of quotation marks to denote direct speech, proper nouns, titles, etc. For example, US English uses double curly quotes for outer quotation marks and single curly quotes for inner quotation marks, while British English uses single curly quotes for outer quotation marks and double curly quotes for inner quotation marks. On top of that, various clients may require the use of specific style guides (e.g., Microsoft style guides) which stipulate specific quotation styles. In addition to quotation marks, there are symbols which look similar and may be confused with quotation marks: apostrophe (  ), prime (  ) used to denote feet, and double prime (  ) used to denote inches.

A common mistake during translation is to use source-language quotation marks in the translation, which is often incorrect. Another mistake is to use straight quotation marks ( ", ' ) for quotation marks, apostrophes and primes, instead of directional / curly symbols. Below are some examples of correct and incorrect use of quotation marks, apostrophes and prime symbols:

Incorrect Correct Explanation
American English: Tolstoy’s "War and Peace." Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Outer quotation marks in American English are curly double quotes, not straight double quotes.
What will Sunday's game bring? What will Sundays game bring? The correct apostrophe symbol is curly (Right Single Quotation Mark), not straight.
Playing a game of Texas hold em. Playing a game of Texas hold em. The correct symbol for apostrophe looks like ‘9’, not ‘6’. Beware of this when you use Smart Quotes option in most word processors and CAT tools, because this option turns a straight apostrophe into an opening single quotation mark (‘6’) at the beginning of words.
French: François Hollande et Angela Merkel jugent «illégaux» les référendums en préparation dans l’est de l’Ukraine. François Hollande et Angela Merkel jugent « illégaux » les référendums en préparation dans l’est de l’Ukraine. The angle quotation marks (guillemets) in French must be separated from the inner text with non-breaking spaces.
311 The correct symbols for feet and inches are prime (  ) for feet and double prime (  ) for inches. They are not curled like quotation marks, but simply diagonal.

Quotation Magic to the rescue

Quotation Magic is a special tool designed to help you resolve all the above issues and more. It searches your Microsoft Word document for quotation marks, apostrophes and prime symbols in accordance with the document’s language and suggests corrections if necessary. In addition to fixing typographically incorrect quotation, apostrophe and prime symbols, it will help you resolve the following issues:

  • Missing opening or closing quotation marks.
  • Incorrect spacing around quotation marks, e.g., when there is a space before a closing quotation mark or after an opening quotation mark (except in French).

How to use it

When you run Quotation Magic from TransTools tab, you will see the following dialogue:

Screenshot: Quotation Magic dialogue

By default, the dialogue is configured to search for quotation marks in the whole document. You can search within selected text by choosing the Selection option in the Scope pane. You must also select Document Language and Level 1 (outer) and Level 2 (inner) quotation styles (the defaults can be configured by clicking Configure button, see below).

After all the correction options are selected, you are ready to search the document for incorrect quotation marks, apostrophes, etc. To do this, press Search Document button. When the operation completes, the results will be listed under the Search Document button:

Screenshot: Quotation Magic dialog showing all found problems

The Results list below the Search button displays the following columns:

  1. Special equality / certainty symbol:
    • (the recommended symbol is different from the symbol in the document),
    • (problem determining the opening/closing position or quotation level),
    • ? (cannot determine whether the symbol is in the opening or closing position),
    • = (the recommended symbol is equal to the currently used symbol – to see these items, click the filter icon above the list).
  2. Symbol: the current symbol used in the document.
  3. Replacement: recommended replacement symbol.
  4. Context: text before and after the found symbol, with the symbol surrounded by •.

The selected item is marked with “<–” in the right-hand column.

Before you can correct the document or highlight incorrect symbols, you need to mark appropriate items with a checkbox. The easiest way to do this quickly is to select the first item with the mouse and then use Up / Down keys to move up or down the list and the Space key to select or de-select items. You can also use the mouse to check or uncheck items, although this is not very convenient.

As you navigate the list, the appropriate text before and after the highlighted symbol will be selected in the document, so you will be able to see more context and fix mistakes immediately. In addition, the preview box under the list will display a preview of the text before and after the highlighted symbol and, if applicable, an explanation of the problem:

Screenshot: Context and explanation of the problem

Two types of items must be checked carefully:

  • Items marked with ?. The question mark means that Quotation Magic cannot determine whether the symbol is in an opening or closing position. Initially, these items will be unchecked, and the replacement symbol will be same (i.e., the original symbol will be unchanged if you run the correction procedure). Most of the time, such symbols have incorrect spacing before or after them, for example a space after an opening quotation mark. To correct such items, the best way is to select the appropriate symbol from the Correct With list, and fix the spacing around it after the document is corrected by Quotation Magic – these items will be highlighted in red by default so you will find them easily.
  • Items marked with . The almost-equal sign means one of two things: 1) Quotation Magic had a problem determining whether the symbol is in an opening or closing position, but could guess that, 2) Quotation Magic could not determine whether the quotation mark is an outer or an inner (quote inside quote) quotation mark. This could be caused by several things: a) incorrect spacing around the symbol, b) quote is opened by one type of quotation mark (e.g., «) but closed with another type (e.g., “), c) the quotation mark is unpaired – an opening or closing quotation mark is missing. Again, to correct the item, choose the appropriate symbol from the Correct With list and fix the spacing around it after the document is corrected by Quotation Magic – these items will be highlighted in red by default so you will find them easily.

In general, it is recommended to look through all the symbols in the list, because Quotation Magic can make mistakes, too.

When you have reviewed all items, you are ready to complete the procedure. You have two choices: 1) Correct selected items, 2) Highlight selected items:

  • Correct selected items: if you select this option, all selected items will be corrected with the symbol suggested by Quotation Magic or chosen by you from the Correct With list. Items marked with or = will be highlighted with the color chosen from the first (confident) list. All other items will be highlighted with the color chosen from the second (uncertain) list. This second contrasting color will help you find the uncertain symbols and fix various issues, e.g., remove unnecessary space, type missing quotation marks, etc.
  • Highlight selected items: if you select this option, Quotation Magic will not correct anything, but will only highlight all selected symbols so you can correct them manually.

To perform the operation, click Correct Document button.

After the document is corrected, review the document on the basis of color highlighting. Pay particular attention to the highlighting color used for uncertain items – they often indicate incorrect spacing around the symbol or a missing quotation mark.


To configure Quotation Magic, press Configure... button. You can configure the following aspects of Quotation Magic:

  • Select default language: the default language will be selected in the Document Language list automatically when you open Quotation Magic. Normally, choose your main target language here.
  • Select a default quotation style for a language: some languages use several quotation styles. For example, in Russian the outer quotation marks are «» and inner quotation marks are „“, but many publications use «» for both outer and inner quotation marks. If this is the case with your language, select the preferred style from the Default Quotation Styles list.
  • User-defined quotation styles: by default, Quotation Magic is configured with preferred quotation styles for most languages. If you need to use a quotation style that is not listed by Quotation Magic, you can add it yourself by choosing the quotation styles for outer (top-level) and inner (quote inside quote) quotation marks and choosing Add.
    Starting from version 2.8, it is possible to use quotation styles which are based on straight quotation marks (" and ').
  • Use a straight apostrophe for this language: if this option is checked, straight apostrophe (') will be used instead of curly apostrophe () for the selected language.

Screenshot: Quotation Magic configuration

Additional capabilities for CAT tool users

In addition to regular Word documents, Quotation Magic can work with 2 bilingual document formats generated by CAT tools:

  1. Trados Tag-delimited DOC files
  2. memoQ Bilingual RTF files

This means that you can use Quotation Magic to correct quotation marks, apostrophes and similar symbols in one of the following cases:

  • If you use Wordfast Classic or Trados 2007, before the document is cleaned and prior to the final updating of your TM.
  • If you receive a bilingual file in one of the above formats for proofreading.

Additional notes

By default, it is not possible to change quotation marks and apostrophes to straight quotation marks (" and ') or straight apostrophe ('). In case you need to, press Configure..., select the appropriate language, add a custom quotation style based on straight quotation marks ("_" or '_') and enable straight apostrophe.


Developed by Stanislav Okhvat, 2007–2018

Microsoft Word®, Excel®, PowerPoint® and Visio® are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
Autocad© is copyright of Autodesk, Inc.
SDL Trados® (including SDL Trados Studio, Trados Workbench, TagEditor and Microsoft Word Addin) is a registered trademark of SDL plc.
memoQ is copyright of Kilgray Translation Technologies.
Wordfast© is copyright of Yves Champollion.

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