macOS: How to Use Substitutions in Text

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| Quick Tip

I’m a little bit of a typography nerd. I like dashes that are formatted correctly—none of that “- -” stuff, thanks!—and smart quotes and so on. So it’s frustrating for me when I am quoting another source in a document and the pasted text is all messed up in that regard. Take, for example, this document with a couple of quotes I’ve pasted within:

Bad Typography in Pages

Note that the quote marks are straight ones, and the places where em dashes should go are double hyphens instead. Yuck!

Luckily, there is a way within Pages (and other programs too, like TextEdit and Mail) to substitute out those bad typographical characters, and here’s how you do it. First, you can select the part of your document that you’d like to correct, like so:

Selected Text in Pages

Go up to the Edit menu afterward and choose Substitutions> Show Substitutions:

Edit Menu in Pages

Then a little window will appear that looks like this:

Substitutions Window

From there, you can turn on anything you want to correct that isn’t already on—Smart Quotes, say, or Smart Dashes—and click “Replace in Selection” on that window to do just that.

See how nice those em dashes are? Yay.

Of course, “Replace All” is an option there, too, so if you need to correct everything in an entire document, you can do so. Typography nerds, rejoice!

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Melissa HoltLee Dronick Recent comment authors

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Lee Dronick
Lee Dronick

Do you know a way to do this in iOS?