Slugline 1.2.2

Slugline 1.2.2 is available now in the App Store. This is a minor update to 1.2.1 that fixes a rare, but annoying case where quotation marks, apostrophes, and dashes could be replaced by their “smart” equivalents. This could happen inconsistently, leaving you with half-smart quotes, like this:

Nobody wants half-smart quotes, but since not everyone agrees about whether smart quotes belong in a screenplay, this is a good opportunity to discuss Slugline’s approach.

Type and Writers

The bug was brought to our attention by noted actor, author, and British Person Stephen Fry, who we were delighted to find is an adoring Slugline user. In his detailed bug report, he wrote:

[Smart quotes] are stylistically wrong for fixed width fonts such as Courier, Courier Prime etc.

It so happens that we tend to agree. We love that screenplays feel typed, not typeset. So Slugline uses typewriter-style straight quotes and apostrophes, rather than trying to cleverly replaced them with the curly varieties:

Slugline does this irrespective of your System Preferences, which are a bit coarse when it comes to this stuff:

Notice that the toggle for replacing quotes is linked to replacing dashes. We’ve designed Slugline to ignore this setting, as your general-purpose preference here may not match your desires when screenwriting. For writing emails, blog posts, and just about anything other than a screenplay, curly quotes, proper apostrophes, and en- and em-dashes are wonderful things. But in the monospace, typewriter-emulation model of screenwriting, things are less clear-cut.

For example, take the age-old debate about two spaces after a period. It’s always wrong to put two spaces after a period when using a proportional font. But with Courier or the like, it’s a matter of personal preference.

Some writers might love smart quotes in their screenplays. They can look fine, especially in Courier Prime. Here’s an example:

But no one wants smart dashes in Courier, because what distinguishes an en-dash or em-dash from a hyphen is the width of the glyph, and in monospaces typefaces, all characters are the same width. Here’s what it looks like if you allow OS X to replace -- with an em-dash:

Not good. Screenwriters are very picky about the difference between, say, a dash - a double-dash --. So even though we understand that you might respectfully disagree with Mr. Fry and prefer smart quotes in your screenplay, we can’t simply take the System Preferences as gospel, because screenplays, with their monospace, typewriter-inspired text, follow different rules.

So, for the time being, Slugline keeps your quotes un-smart. In the future, we may revisit this decision, and we are always delighted for your feedback on these matters!