Get the dash right when you write

Not talking Morse Code.

Does the Hyphen, EN Dash, and EM Dash ever confuse you?

They have me. Thank goodness for editors who know the difference.

I wonder if I’ll ever remember everything I need to know about punctuation. Seems the more I read the more I need to read. Something like that. Joel Friedlander posted a great article about using dashes instead of commas and how we can get the placement mixed up.

What I learned about the right way to use these punctuations…

  1. That the dash is not based on the font size.
  2. The difference between a Hyphen, EN, and EM.
    • Hyphen is shortest
    • EN is shorter than EM
    • EM is the longest
  3. The three are not interchangeable.
  4. An editors shorthand for where to put them.
  5. And the short-cut keystrokes to insert them.
  6. Short-cut keystrokes are a quick way to insert special characters. Of course, you can always click on the Special Characters menu but I’m a big lover of shortcut keys when writing in Scrivener or MSWord.
  7. For blogs click on the Special Character in the WordPress Visual Editor.

  • This screen pops up and you can select whichever character you need.

  • The Hyphen key is easy. It’s on our keyboard.
  • The EN Dash shortcut for Scrivener or MSWord is Ctrl+Minus.  Looks a bit like a hyphen and is used to connect a range, for dates or pages. Often found in indexes.
  • The EM Dash shortcut for Scrivener or MSWord is Ctrl+Alt+Minus. The EM dash is for a pause or parenthesis with somewhat more emphasis than a comma and somewhat less than what parentheses imply.
    •  The Punctuation Guide states, “Most newspapers — and all that follow AP style — insert a space before and after the em dash.”
    • However, this may not be practical for fiction as it may result in a formatting nightmare—resulting in a line break where you may not want one.

To learn more, click and read Joel’s entire post.

Hyphens, Em Dashes, En Dashes—Everything You Need to Know BY 

Keep reading more info here.

How to insert special characters in WordPress.

Did any of this help clear up things for you?

Do you use EN or EM dash in your writing?

What do you think?

I really want to know so leave me a comment and talk dashes.

Also, if you can please stop by my other locations and say “hey!” I’ll leave a light on. 

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9 thoughts on “Get the dash right when you write

  1. I risk overusing em dashes so I have to be careful. And I agree, the AP style with a space before and after the em dash isn’t really practical for fiction. I ended up changing all mine back after a recent copy edit.

    Liked by 1 person

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