For a given document (buffer), I would like use left double quotation mark (U+201C) and right double quotation mark (U+201D) instead of the ordinary double quote " (U+0022). I want to surround strings and sentences with these, and I want to do it as effortless as possible.

I post my first attempt as an answer below, since it works somehow..

Is this a recommended approach? I am looking for feedback and alternatives.

  • 3
    In emacs 25, C-x 8 { and C-x 8 } will insert those. Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


Typoel will insert the appropriate quotes for you. From its README.md:

“He said, ‘leave me alone,’ and closed the door.”

All quotation marks in this sentence were added by hitting the " key exactly once each. typo.el guessed the correct glyphs to use from context. If it gets it wrong, you can just repeat hitting the " key until you get the quotation mark you wanted.


As an option, Emacs 25 has electric-quote-mode. See documentation for the function for more information. In short, it replaces ``something'' with “something” on the fly.

I don't use this, I have my own hacks to insert any character I want in 5 key stokes or so, including ◊≡∫∑«» any symbols and quotes. For quotes it even has wrapping functionality and other nifty tricks. This is not distributed as a package and I don't know if you're interested in such a solution.


The following seems to work somehow. When pressing " the function determines which of the two types it should insert.

;; Insert quotes “ and ”
(defun my-insert-quote ()
  (let ((char (preceding-char)))
    (if (or (char-equal char 0)
            (char-equal char ?\s)
            (char-equal char ?\n)
            (char-equal char ?\t))
        (insert "“")
      (insert "”"))))

(global-set-key (kbd "\"") #'my-insert-quote)

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