0.2.2 • Public • Published


Easily translates plain ASCII punctuation characters into "smart" typographic punctuation HTML entities.

The following text about what is SmartyPants and how to use it is from the original project.

by John Gruber

SmartyPants is a free web publishing plug-in for Movable Type, Blosxom, and BBEdit. that easily translates plain ASCII punctuation characters into "smart" typographic punctuation HTML entities. SmartyPants can also be invoked as a standalone Perl script. smartypants.js is JavaScript version of Provides the translate feature and supports output UTF-8 character instead of HTML entity.

SmartyPants can perform the following transformations:

  • Straight quotes (" and ') into "curly" quote HTML entities

  • Backtick-style quotes (``like this'') into "curly" quote HTML entities

  • Dashes (-- and ---) into en- and em-dash entities

  • Three consecutive dots (...) into an ellipsis entity

This means you can write, edit, and save your posts using plain old ASCII straight quotes, plain dashes, and plain dots, but your published posts (and final HTML output) will appear with smart quotes, em-dashes, and proper ellipses.

SmartyPants does not modify characters within <pre>, <code>, <kbd>, or <script> tag blocks. Typically, these tags are used to display text where smart quotes and other "smart punctuation" would not be appropriate, such as source code or example markup.

Backslash Escapes

If you need to use literal straight quotes (or plain hyphens and periods), SmartyPants accepts the following backslash escape sequences to force non-smart punctuation. It does so by transforming the escape sequence into a decimal-encoded HTML entity:

Escape  Value  Character
------  -----  ---------
  \\    &#92;    \
  \"    &#34;    "
  \'    &#39;    '
  \.    &#46;    .
  \-    &#45;    -
  \`    &#96;    `

This is useful, for example, when you want to use straight quotes as foot and inch marks:

6\'2\" tall

translates into:

6&#39;2&#34; tall

in SmartyPants's HTML output. Which, when rendered by a web browser, looks like:

6'2" tall



Command line:

npm install -g smartypants

Nodejs module:

npm install smartypants


Command Line

smartypants command line only support stdio now:

cat source.txt | smartypants

There is another command smartypantsu return UTF-8 character instead of HTML entity.

cat source.txt | smartypants

Node Module

var smartypants = require('smartypants');

var attr = 1; // Number or string
var sourceText = '"hello!"';

var educated = smartypants.smartypants(sourceText, attr);

ES6 Module

ES6 module only availabe in pkg.module and mjs extension.

import smartypants from 'smartypants';

var attr = 1; // Number or string
var sourceText = '"hello!"';

var educated = smartypants(sourceText, attr); // default export is available

In node module, smartypants provides several methods, orginal provided only in MT Tempalte:

  • default is smartypants (ES6 module only)
  • smartypants educates everything
  • smartypantsu educates everything, return UTF-8 characters instead of HTML entity
  • smartquotes only educates quotes
  • smartdashes only educates dashes
  • smartellipses only educates ellipses

Options and Configuration

Numeric values are the easiest way to configure SmartyPants's behavior:

"0" Suppress all transformations. (Do nothing.)

"1" Performs default SmartyPants transformations: quotes (including backticks-style), em-dashes, and ellipses. -- (dash dash) is used to signify an em-dash; there is no support for en-dashes.

"2" Same as smarty_pants="1", except that it uses the old-school typewriter shorthand for dashes: -- (dash dash) for en-dashes, --- (dash dash dash) for em-dashes.

"3" Same as smarty_pants="2", but inverts the shorthand for dashes: -- (dash dash) for em-dashes, and --- (dash dash dash) for en-dashes.

"-1" Stupefy mode. Reverses the SmartyPants transformation process, turning the HTML entities produced by SmartyPants into their ASCII equivalents. E.g. &#8220; is turned into a simple double-quote ("), &#8212; is turned into two dashes, etc. This is useful if you are using SmartyPants from Brad Choate's MT-Textile text filter, but wish to suppress smart punctuation in specific MT templates, such as RSS feeds. Text filters do their work before templates are processed; but you can use smarty_pants="-1" to reverse the transformations in specific templates.

The following single-character attribute values can be combined to toggle individual transformations from within the smarty_pants attribute. For example, to educate normal quotes and em-dashes, but not ellipses or backticks-style quotes: qd

"q" Educates normal quote characters: (") and (').

"b" Educates ``backticks'' double quotes.

"B" Educates backticks-style double quotes and single' ` quotes.

"d" Educates em-dashes.

"D" Educates em-dashes and en-dashes, using old-school typewriter shorthand: (dash dash) for en-dashes, (dash dash dash) for em-dashes.

"i" Educates em-dashes and en-dashes, using inverted old-school typewriter shorthand: (dash dash) for em-dashes, (dash dash dash) for en-dashes.

"e" Educates ellipses.

"w" Translates any instance of &quot; into a normal double-quote character. This should be of no interest to most people, but of particular interest to anyone who writes their posts using Dreamweaver, as Dreamweaver inexplicably uses this entity to represent a literal double-quote character. SmartyPants only educates normal quotes, not entities (because ordinarily, entities are used for the explicit purpose of representing the specific character they represent). The "w" option must be used in conjunction with one (or both) of the other quote options ("q" or "b"). Thus, if you wish to apply all SmartyPants transformations (quotes, en- and em-dashes, and ellipses) and also translate &quot; entities into regular quotes so SmartyPants can educate them, you should pass the following to the smarty_pants attribute:

    smartypants(sourceText, 'qDew');


Why You Might Not Want to Use Smart Quotes in Your Weblog

For one thing, you might not care.

Most normal, mentally stable individuals do not take notice of proper typographic punctuation. Many design and typography nerds, however, break out in a nasty rash when they encounter, say, a restaurant sign that uses a straight apostrophe to spell "Joe's".

If you're the sort of person who just doesn't care, you might well want to continue not caring. Using straight quotes -- and sticking to the 7-bit ASCII character set in general -- is certainly a simpler way to live.

Even if you do care about accurate typography, you still might want to think twice before educating the quote characters in your weblog. One side effect of publishing curly quote HTML entities is that it makes your weblog a bit harder for others to quote from using copy-and-paste. What happens is that when someone copies text from your blog, the copied text contains the 8-bit curly quote characters (as well as the 8-bit characters for em-dashes and ellipses, if you use these options). These characters are not standard across different text encoding methods, which is why they need to be encoded as HTML entities.

People copying text from your weblog, however, may not notice that you're using curly quotes, and they'll go ahead and paste the unencoded 8-bit characters copied from their browser into an email message or their own weblog. When pasted as raw "smart quotes", these characters are likely to get mangled beyond recognition.

That said, my own opinion is that any decent text editor or email client makes it easy to stupefy smart quote characters into their 7-bit equivalents, and I don't consider it my problem if you're using an indecent text editor or email client.

Algorithmic Shortcomings

One situation in which quotes will get curled the wrong way is when apostrophes are used at the start of leading contractions. For example:

'Twas the night before Christmas.

In the case above, SmartyPants will turn the apostrophe into an opening single-quote, when in fact it should be a closing one. I don't think this problem can be solved in the general case -- every word processor I've tried gets this wrong as well. In such cases, it's best to use the proper HTML entity for closing single-quotes (&#8217; or &rsquo;) by hand.

Version History


John Gruber

JavaScript Port Maintainer

Kao, Wei-Ko(othree)

Additional Credits

Portions of this plug-in are based on Brad Choate's nifty MTRegex plug-in. Brad Choate also contributed a few bits of source code to this plug-in. Brad Choate is a fine hacker indeed. (

Jeremy Hedley ( and Charles Wiltgen ( deserve mention for exemplary beta testing.

Rael Dornfest ( ported SmartyPants to Blosxom.

Copyright and License

Copyright (c) 2004 John Gruber
Copyright (c) 2016 Kao, Wei-Ko(othree)
All rights reserved.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  • Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

  • Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

  • Neither the name "SmartyPants" nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

This software is provided by the copyright holders and contributors "as is" and any express or implied warranties, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose are disclaimed. In no event shall the copyright owner or contributors be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, or consequential damages (including, but not limited to, procurement of substitute goods or services; loss of use, data, or profits; or business interruption) however caused and on any theory of liability, whether in contract, strict liability, or tort (including negligence or otherwise) arising in any way out of the use of this software, even if advised of the possibility of such damage.

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