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To find beginning inner quotes, I would do a search for [, "] (ignore the brackets) - comma, space, double quotes. This should capture quotes within quotes. You might also try [: "], in case a quote is offset by a colon instead of a comma.

For ending inner quotes, I would search for ["."] or [.""], depending on your formatting. (I prefer quote, period, quote.) You could sub the period for other ending punctuation, as necessary.

I'm sure it was time-consuming, however you managed to work it out! :)

Mike Bevel

I would quit my job under very dramatic circumstances -- "I will NOT be a party to [x]!" where [x] is, you know, whatever; something dramatic, though, as we agreed -- and then get a job at Bed, Bath & Beyond folding bath towels because that's a dream job of mine: just me, some fluffy towels, and feigned muteness if anyone attempts to engage me in a conversation that seems headed towards customer service.

Molly Hinshaw

In the "Insert symbol" menu, there is a symbol for a left double quote. I would do a search. The first term in the search box is a left double quote (first I checked to make sure it catches only left double quotes, not right). Then I select "allow wildcards" in the search box and I used an asterisk to represent all intervening text (wasn't sure this would work, but I checked, and it did!) then type a second left double quote in the search box. so, in short, my search box terms were “*“ with "use wildcards" selected. This ended up highlighting any two left double quotes and all intervening text. At that point you can search the highlighted text for a right double quote. If you find a right double quote in the highlighted text then no changes are necessary, if not, then you've caught your quote within a quote.


This is a tough one. Internal quotes might butt up against the external quotes at either end, or they might be in the middle, far from the double-quotes.

Here's my first thought: Do a Find/Replace: Put a quotation mark in the Find What box, put ^& in the Replace With box (so it won't actually change anything), and select Highlight from the Format drop-down. Then click Replace All. This will highlight all the quotation marks.

Change the highlight color, and then do the same Find/Replace for single quotes. Now you have all quotes and single quotes highlighted in two different colors. You can zoom out substantially and just look for those little blocks of color, making sure their order is logical. If something is awry, zoom back in and fix it.

When you're done, Ctrl+A to select everything, and then remove highlighting.


OMG. What Mike said.


At this late stage in production, and with such a large press run looming, I would take no chances. First I'd do a Find/Replace, then have the proofreader recheck the entire MS. The Borders Classics edition of The Odyssey contains a typo, so get The Iliad right.

Charles Butcher

Search: (“)([^”]*)(“)
Replace: \1\2‘

Search: (”)([^“]*)(”)
Replace: ’\2\1

In other words, grep is your friend. The first pair of patterns above say (assuming the curly quotes survive intact): “Find an opening double quote followed first by zero or more characters that are not closing double quotes and then by another opening double quote. Replace the second opening double quote with an opening single quote.”

The second pair do the same thing for the closing quotes. Someone skilled at grep could combine these into a single operation, I’m sure.

Nisus Writer Pro does grep very well, but MS Word is pretty powerful in this respect although the syntax is different. Geeky but immensely useful.


Carol Saller

I have to say I'm impressed with all this creativity!

But let me repeat one qualification: this is at proofs stage, so global replacements in the e-file are not an option. The e-file is for reference only. Corrections must be made on paper.

I want to be able to locate inner quotations with the fewest possible steps AND the fewest possible "false finds," so I can then find the same locations in the page proofs to make corrections.

Kathleen McLaughlin

That's easy. Go back to the original, unedited manuscript, search for double quotes, and then find those instances in the proof and change the to single quotes. At least that's what I'd do.

Kathleen McLaughlin

Oops-- *them


Kathleen beat me to it.

Rhiannon Miller

Charles Butcher has it right: GREP is the way to go. But if it's being typeset in-house, or you're using a good external typesetter (probably not an Indian or Far Eastern house though) you can go a stage further.

Just write it as a global instruction on the first page of the proofs and get them to sort it out.

InDesign has some very powerful GREP tools, and I assume other typesetting systems have similar arrangements. A good typesetter will know how to use them (and if they're in-house you can check with them that they know what to do before they start).

I would definitely recommend a thorough second proofread afterwards, though. But with such a big change you'll want to do that anyway.

Carol Saller

Keep talking! I'm learning! But could I nudge this in a different direction?

First, although there are hundreds of outer quotations in the poem, there are only a handful of inner quotes--maybe twenty. It's likely that the proofreader has already caught all of them. I can't justify the delay and expense of another proofreading. (This is a big book!)

It's being typeset out of house.

Molly Hinshaw

Do you have access to the original, unedited file? If so, Kathleen's solution sounds fastest.

Erica Pannen

What if, hypothetically (since it's been emphasized that global operations are not possible), none of the quotation marks were undifferentiated (i.e. and rather than ,,,?

And who is this Richmond Lattimore anyway?

(uh-oh. Previewed the post; all special characters and formatting disappeared. Going to submit anyway and hope for the best.)

Erica Pannen

Alas. So how did you other commenters manage to use "open/close" (sometimes called curly) quotes as well as 'standard' (sometimes called straight) ones?

Richmond not being italicized is less crucial.

Charles Butcher

I pasted my curly quotes in and hoped for the best. WYSIMOLWYG, as they say.

We seem to have run out of steam. If we can't automate search-and-replace in the live text (though Rhiannon's reminder about the power of grep InDesign is a good one), it comes down to how to mark up the original text in such a way that it's easy to match up with the proof.

I can only suggest a smart find-and-replace that highlights in colour (cf Logophilus) only pairs of double quotes that are inside pairs of double quotes. Or perhaps it would be better to detect these and then colour the entire paragraph. But I can't think of any way to show on what page of the proof to look.

Carol, when are you going to put us out of our misery?

Carol Saller

Wednesday at 4:00 am--of course!

Sara Austin

To enliven things, here's a new tack:
Is there a feature of Lattimore's translation specifically that will help? Does Lattimore include a return or tab after characters' speeches? Is there a conventional tag (I suspect so) like "so spoke he"?
It's set as poetry, so the beginning of each line will be the same in ms. and proof, which would make scanning the proof quickly easier. Is there a way to use that? Also, there is the online version of Lattimore's translation at Homer Chicago--could that be harnessed?

Carol Saller

Sara, I see the brainstorming of a good copyeditor! But unfortunately the answers are no, no, no, and no. Lattimore's original translation wasn't even in electronic form. For this edition we had to have the MS keyboarded from the first edition.

The quotations begin and end randomly, often in the middle of a line. An outer quotation sometimes goes on at some length after the end of an inner quote.

Finally the online Homer isn't very useful, given that you can see only a few lines at a time.


the tough work puzzled me. and i think you should return to the starting place where the quotation marks werenot signed and you do it again.make it one time.
Toronto criminal lawyer

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