Solved! The Case of the Questionable Quotation Marks

In a previous article entitled “Boolean Beware: The Case of the Questionable Question Marks,” the case was brought forth as to why, when searching both the LinkedIn and Taleo resume databases, you had to make sure you were using the “correct” quotation marks or else the search results would be random, incorrect, and almost useless.

Specifically we discussed the situation in which a recruiter writes a lengthy Boolean string that is too long for the recruiter to see the whole string at one time because of the limited number of characters allowed in the Key Words field that LinkedIn Recruiter and Taleo can view at one time. It’s important that the recruiter see the “big picture” of the string at one time in order to get a better feel for what’s working and what’s not in order to know how to tweak the string to make it more effective. Specifically, these Key Words fields display about 80-90 characters at one time when working with 400 character or longer string.

The original “solution” was to first build the string in Word where a string of any length could be viewed at once. Then the string would be copied out of Word and pasted into the Key Words field of LinkedIn Recruiter. Word uses the following 2 types of curly quotation marks as follows: and . The only problem is that LinkedIn Recruiter doesn’t recognize either of these types of quotation marks and treats them as if they were invisible. You can see how that could totally mess up your search results when you’re trying to use quotation marks to search for a specific phrase.

The next “solution” was to write the string in Word, then go over to LinkedIn Recruiter and type in one of the straight quotation marks () copy it, go back to Word and then paste over every curly quotation mark. Finally I would copy the corrected string out of Word and then paste it into LinkedIn recruiter. I remember once pasting over 72 quotation marks one by one in one string…way too tedious.

After the first article was published I got good feedback from some that if I built my strings in Notepad, I wouldn’t encounter that problem. By that time though I had about 400 pages of strings in Word Table that enabled me to have four columns for Date, Req #/Title, Recruiter’s name that I was sourcing for, and then the last column for the strings themselves.

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Another “solution” came from one of the people who responded. Chris Lowe gave instructions on how to go into Word and change the settings so that every quotation mark comes out straight! No more corrections needed! Thank you Chris Lowe!

Below is the fix:

  1. Open Word.
  2. Left click on the multi-colored Microsoft ball in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. A big drop down box appears. Click on the “Word Options” button near the bottom right of this box.
  4. Another bigger box appears. On the left side click on “Proofing.”
  5. On this same page click on the “AutoCorrect Options” button on the right side of this page.
  6. On the new page click on the “AutoFormat As You Type” Tab.
  7. Make sure the Box next to “Straight quotes with smart quotes” (Replace as you type) is Unchecked.
  8. You’re good to go!

**image source: Quinn Dombrowski

John Childs is a Boolean Recruiting Trainer / Consultant that is available for Boolean seminars, classes, and hands-on workshops. Previously he was a Sourcing Specialist with Research In Motion / BlackBerry. He received his Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University. During his Masters program he was required to take a class in Boolean Logic. For the last fifteen years he has proven this Boolean skill to be a very powerful tool in recruiting where both speed and accuracy are at a premium. His recruiting has encompassed a wide variety of positions that have included those associated with industries such as semiconductors, telecom, software, hardware, IT, microprocessors, defense, and wireless. He published a Boolean Tutorial about ten years ago which, although quite dated, still offers some good tips on the basics. You can view it a or Shally Steckerl has a much better formatted version on his Arbita site at The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of John Childs and not his employer.


7 Comments on “Solved! The Case of the Questionable Quotation Marks

  1. That, yes, and a simple find/replace should fix your existing strings. I always forget people don’t know how to use Word! 

    1. Hi Richard, good thought, but the Find/Replace in Word doesn’t fix the problem unfortunately.  You can say “Find curly quotes and Replace with straight quotes”, but you still end up with curly quotes.  JC 

      1. Oddly, having issues with my display name coming up as “richard” sometimes? Very odd.

        Anyway – the find/replace DOES work once you turn off the auto-format. Was an “in addition to” not an “instead of” suggestion.

    1. Hi Clint,

      Good to hear from you!  I hope you’re liking your new gig!

      All the best,

      P.S.  I have a new article coming out from SourceCon entitled:  “Boolean in Disguise:  LnkedIn Recruiter’s Cure for the Common Boolean Blues”

  2. You can also just compose your strings in Microsoft Excel, which doesn’t convert straight to smart quotes, nor single hyphens to long dashes (a problem if you like the NOT command in your boolean strings on LinkedIn and other sites).  The other nice thing is you can track your results in the next column over from your search string.

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