Special Characters

Q. My question has to do with the direction of an apostrophe at the beginning of shortened versions of longer words. For example, “’zine” for “magazine” or “’cause” for “because.” In transcribed interviews, I sometimes run into this. Should the apostrophe close toward the word or away from it? Thanks.

A. Apostrophes come in only one shape, which happens to be the same as that of the single end quotation mark. In word-processed documents, however, when apostrophes are preceded by a space (as opposed to those in the middle of a word, like “it’s”), the software thinks the writer wants an opening quotation mark and supplies one. When documents aren’t proofread carefully, these marks appear in place of apostrophes. (This is only one reason why I’m not worried about being replaced by a computer anytime soon.)