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Converting a US-formatted Microsoft Word document to UK formatting?
March 11, 2013 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way (a macro perhaps?) to change the spellings and punctuation in a Microsoft Word document (.docx) from "American" style to "British" (or should I say, 'British') style in one fell swoop?

I have a manuscript which I wrote to submit to an American academic journal in the humanities. After being rejected by this journal, I am looking to submit it to a British journal. This latter journal wants UK spellings and punctuation -- that is, single quotation marks ('like this') for main quotes and double quotation marks (I said, 'John told me "be careful" as he was walking away') for nested quotes.

The spelling should be fairly easy to change -- just set the language to English (UK) and American spellings like "color" and "center" and such will get red squiggly underlines. For the punctuation, however, I find myself in a bind. Ctrl+F/Replace is not an option for several reasons:

Let's say I replace all double quotation marks (") with single quotation marks ('). If I then try to change single quotation marks to double, I will end up changing all of things I just changed to single quotes back to double quotes! Also, all of the apostrophes I have in the manuscript would end up being changed to double quotation marks.

I am using Microsoft Office 2007 on Windows 7.

Thanks!
posted by dhens to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can get creative with doing things like replacing a space followed by a single quote to _leading_single_quote_ and a single quote followed by a space to _trailing_single_quote_ and similarly for double quotes, which should miss apostrophes and such as they shouldn't have spaces around them. You can then go ahead and substitute trailing_single_quote_ with a double quote and then a space, etc.

It's not one fell swoop, but it's better than doing them each individually.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:35 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let's say I replace all double quotation marks (") with single quotation marks ('). If I then try to change single quotation marks to double, I will end up changing all of things I just changed to single quotes back to double quotes!

I'm not familiar with the specifics of US v UK style, but this is easy to address.
1. change all your doublequotes to something you don't use, like the word (doubletosinglehere)
2. change all your single quotes to double quotes
3. change all instances of your placeholder word (doubletosinglehere) to single quotes.

What are the other reasons that Ctrl-F would not work?
posted by jacalata at 11:35 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Changing the language settings at the dictionary and the computer keyboard level will help with the grammar check to pull up the obvious stuff and then you can go through it if you need to. At least that is what I do, perhaps there's an easier way ( I sure hope so to!)
posted by infini at 11:39 AM on March 11, 2013


Hmm, the use of placeholder would seem to expedite things, but I think that it would still pose a problem with apostrophes. Following jacalata's example, at step 2 all of my apostrophes would be changed to double quotes.
posted by dhens at 11:42 AM on March 11, 2013


Hmm, the use of placeholder would seem to expedite things, but I think that it would still pose a problem with apostrophes. Following jacalata's example, at step 2 all of my apostrophes would be changed to double quotes.

Tyler's suggestion takes care of this, though. Unless at any point you have an apostrophe at the start of a word (like 'tis or 'n'), none of your apostrophes should be preceded by a space. So instead of putting just a single quote in the find field, put a space and a single quote to isolate single quotes used as quotes.
posted by payoto at 12:00 PM on March 11, 2013


payoto: I didn't even see that (I just glanced over it). I'll definitely have to try that!
posted by dhens at 12:08 PM on March 11, 2013


Just a quick update: The system of multiple substitutions worked like a charm, with one hitch: there was no way (to my knowledge) to differentiate between s+trailing single quotes in a nested citation (in US usage, like so):

"the 'stakes' of the competition"

and s+apostrophe for plural possessive:

others' views

Once I did all of my substitutions, I searched manually for s" and fixed all of the plural possessives back to s'.

Thanks!
posted by dhens at 2:49 PM on March 16, 2013


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