Apostrophe Atrophy

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I'm a sucker for any hyper-specific blog about typography, grammar, even handwriting. Anything to do with words or word-nerd stuff, really. Witness: my recent post on The Lowercase L, my longtime devotion to "misused" quotation marks, and some awesomely smart signs. Today allow me expand your nerdy typographic horizons with Apostrophe Atrophy, a blog about the misuse of "dumb apostrophes" and "dumb quotes."

What's dumb about an apostrophe or a quote? Well, Apostrophe Atrophy is referring to those "straight quotes" that don't show the direction of the apostrophe or quote in question. In many word processing and design applications you have to turn on "smart quotes," and it looks like many people just don't go there. Apostrophe Atrophy collects examples of poorly-used dumb apostrophes in the wild, but also finds some amazing mixtures of the smart and dumb, for example:

Update: by popular request, let me explain what's wrong with the image above. Note how the quotes around "Wire" and "Evacuate" are curved (aka, smart), but the one within "Simon's" is straight (dumb). See, I said it was hyper-specific.

I think I enjoy this type of blogging so much because there are many layers to each image: 1) A design/typographical mistake; 2) Technological issues (in this case, computers versus quotes); and 3) The actual content of the image in question, which is often pretty interesting: in the case above, the actual article is great stuff, despite the mix of smart and dumb quotes in its headline. This type of multi-faceted thinking definitely activates the Nerd Center in my brain. How about you?

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March 17, 2008 - 10:46am
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