How to Type a Contraction Apostrophe on a Mac

Apostrophe 700 v1If there’s a single punctuation mark that makes graphic artists and writers around the world look stupid so often, and at no real fault of their own, other than know-how, it’s this one.

They’ve simply trusted their word processors to do the right thing. So here’s the golden rule of word processing:

Never trust your software—ever.

Repeat that three times. Out loud, go on.

Right. An apostrophe looks like this ’. It’s the number 9 squiggly. Apostrophes are used for so many purposes, but the one that screws folks up, is the contraction. Like in the word “don’t”. Type it now, and it should work perfectly.

However, try contracting a word missing its first letter(s) like “because”. Type it using Word for example. Did you get ‘cause? Look at the shape of the punctuation mark. It’s a number 6 squiggly. That’s not an apostrophe. Yet millions of people around the world, including paid graphic artists, believe it’s ok because Bill Gates said so. And marketing is awash with it. They’re totally wrong.

Here’s the tip:

a) To contract a word missing its first letters correctly on a Mac, either hit the apostrophe key twice ‘’ and delete the number 6 squiggly, or hold Shift + Option + the ] key.

Totally crazy!

Note in some programs, especially blogging platforms, you may end up with a straight or wedge-looking punctuation mark that’s either totally vertical or on an angle.

These are not quote marks or apostrophes either, they’re called “prime marks” and they’re used to denote the measurement of feet and inches or segments of time and position like minutes and seconds.

Immediately replace them whenever you catch them with the correct squiggly apostrophe or quote mark, so long as your font allows.

Yes, it’s a real pain and they’re very easy to miss because they tend to pop up when editing on screen. But hey, welcome to the 21st Century.