Tag Archives: how not to blog

#amblogging: wanted: flatiron for curly quotes and other blogging twists

300px-Barnum_&_Bailey_clowns_and_geese2Blogging regularly is one of the best ways to improve your writing chops but it can be like working for the circus.  Even when you really know the vagaries of your platform, a lot of strange things can happen in your work. They go unnoticed, doing their thing in the background, keeping it interesting.

WordPress, the mighty bastion upon which my empire rests, uses ‘fancy quotes’ as the default format. While they do look better in a document, blogging can often be an off-the-cuff thing. Straight quotes are less apt to go awry.  I am not sure why this is the default, nor am I able to find a way to ‘unfancy’ them.

WordPress chooses to make things  fancy, but I don’t need fancy. Judging from the number of posts in their forums on the subject, I am not the only one.

In some places, these curvy morsels of madness are called ‘smart quotes.’ In others, they are ‘curly.’ I don’t like them because sometimes they end up facing the wrong way, and being a bit unobservant, I don’t catch that until after I’ve posted it.

I’ve discovered some out of date plug-ins that are no longer available for uncurling my curly quotes, but alas– ‘no longer available’ is not really helpful. I have a flatiron for my curly hair–I need one for WordPress’s curly quotes.

straight and curly quotesAnother seemingly random thing I’ve discovered the hard way: occasionally I will decide to cut a section and paste it elsewhere, only to find (after having published the post) that the cut section has magically reappeared, and I am now repeating myself, verbatim.

This happens so often that I neurotically look at the menu every time I right-click-cut anything, to make sure I am actually cutting and not merely copying.

I double-check the text. Yes, the cut piece is definitely cut and successfully pasted elsewhere. But when I click ‘save draft’ it magically reappears back in the place from which it was cut, and I am once again repeating myself.

gibberish-american businesses onlineThen there is the hinky formatting. Sometimes the formatting goes crazy  and no matter what I do, the spaces between the paragraphs vanish. My post becomes a wall of words. Highlighting the post and clicking on ‘clear formatting’ does not help.

The spaces will show up on the editing side of the piece, but they will have vanished when the post is saved and published. (Edit: removed repeated line. Cursed fluently.)

My hubby, the programmer, says this is most likely caused by some hidden formatting issue that happens when I am copying from a Word doc and pasting it into the post. I usually write my posts in a Word doc because I catch more mistakes that way. Then I paste it here and, using the ‘preview’ option, check, double-check, and check again for bloopers.

Randomly, the posts are rife with strange formatting that will not be removed no matter what remedy I try. If I was a programmer, I would know exactly what bit of code was causing it and fix it. Alas! I’m only an old lady with just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

Hinky formatting also occurs in my Blogger sites, but not as often. I love the way WordPress looks when it’s all going right, but I love the options Blogger offers and the compatibility with Google products such as YouTube videos. (Blogger is a Google product.)

Dealing with these little issues are why I try to write my posts several days in advance and schedule them for the time I want them to post. Once I have it scheduled, I will let it sit overnight and then come back and read it with fresh eyes. I catch a lot that way, but it’s amazing how many slip by me.

This is why I always say self-editing is not as effective as we’d like. No one sees my blog posts before they are published but me and invariably I miss some whopping eye stopper.

1024px-Trapeze_Artists_in_CircusThe most mysterious problem is the inadvertent posting of a piece that is

  • in the draft stage
  • full of bloopers
  • looks illiterate

Technically, that happens because I get side-tracked and instead of scheduling it as I normally do, for some crazy reason I click ‘publish’ instead of ‘save draft.’

I blame ghosts.

And curly quotes.


Filed under blogging, writing