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As you would know, LaTeX uses ` for opening quotes and ' for closing quotes. Most fonts also allow the usage of " for closing doublequotes. My question is: what are the differences in typesetting, formatting, etx, between two 's and one "? Is it a meaningful difference like using dollar-signs against using backslash-notations? Or is it just a personal preference thing for the same function?

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    My editor automatically converts " to either `` or '' (it keeps track). This is occasionally a pain when you NEED a " (for pgfmath or filenames), in which case I have to copy and paste from another document. – John Kormylo May 26 at 15:45
  • @JohnKormylo If your editor is Emacs, you can use ctrl-q to make it interpret the next character literally. If your editor isn't Emacs, you can probably type \" and then delete the slash. – David Richerby May 27 at 10:47
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    @DavidRicherby are there other editors? you can also just type a second " which undoes the smart quotes and enters a literal " in auctex – David Carlisle May 28 at 20:18
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The " is not supported LaTeX syntax, it happens to work in some font encodings. As it is not (supposed) to be used as character input it is often used as a shortcut character in many babel package and other language settings eg "- as a variant hyphenation construct not suppressing hyphenation of the following word.

If " does produce a double quote Then it (should) be a straight left-or-right quote, it is just an accident of the legacy TeX encodings that the right double quote was in that position. If you want single character input it is better to use the standard Unicode left and right double quote characters U+201C U+201D “ ”

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