Tag Archive - em dash

Make a Dash for It

If you’re not familiar with printers’ terminology, you may not know the term em dash. But as a writer and reader, you’re no doubt familiar with its use. Strunk and White describe the dash as a “mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses.”

It helps to distinguish it from its shorter cousin, the en dash, if you know that it draws its name from the typesetting world. The em dash is the width of a capital letter M, while the en dash is the width of the N. So as not to overwhelm you today, we will only look at the usage for the em dash and save the shorter dash for another time. Continue Reading…

What Are Those “Long Hyphens” All About?

I’d like to dash off a not-so-short post today on en dashes, since sorting out the family of dashes—hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes—can give writers a headache. Before I started studying to become a copyeditor, I had no idea there were things called en dashes. I just thought they were long hyphens and caused by the font I was looking at. Silly me.

I then discovered this odd little bit of punctuation, that, granted, pretty much every writer ignores. So why should you care? Don’t get me started on that. Writers should learn when to use each bit of punctuation—if only to spare their copyeditor time and effort (and to score some Brownie points!). Continue Reading…