Punctuation

Q. What’s the proper orientation of the apostrophe when using a contraction such as ’70s or a title such as ’Night Mother? Should it curve as the computer sets it?

A. In typefaces with curly quotation marks (like Times New Roman), apostrophes come in only one shape—they curve like a backward c and happen to be identical to a closing single quotation mark. (The flipped version, curved like a c, is an opening single quotation mark.) In almost all typefaces, they should look like the comma (raised, but not inverted) in the same typeface. Word-processing applications are not yet sophisticated enough to know the difference between an opening quotation mark and an apostrophe at the beginning of a word, so they automatically supply an opening quote mark at the beginning of a word. If you need to be sure you’re using the right mark, the apostrophe and closing single quotation are defined by the Unicode standard as U+0027; the opening single quotation mark is U+2018. Or use the special characters (or symbols) menu in your word processor. If you’re preparing text for typesetting, it can be a good idea to identify apostrophes with a typed code (like <ap>). For more on the apostrophe, see CMOS 6.113–15. For information about Unicode, see CMOS 11.2 and http://unicode.org/.