JS Tip 305: Dashes and Hyphens
Tips from Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting
** From the Writing Workshops: Em Dashes, En Dashes, and Hyphens
Em dashes are longer than en dashes; en dashes are longer than hyphens.
Use em dashes to separate a word or a group of words from the rest of the sentence (similar to commas or parentheses):
Three infielders—Tinker, Evers, and Chance—made the team. Three infielders, Tinker, Evers, and Chance, made the team. Three infielders (Tinker, Evers, and Chance) made the team.
All are correct. Each establishes a distance from the surrounding sentence: the commas a slight distance, the dashes a medium distance, the parentheses a greater distance. You decide what you’d like.
Use an en dash to connect numbers:
Medfield College defeated Faber 98–96. Pages 12–14 explain the flux capacitor. The legislature voted 201–4 to pass the banking bill.
Use a hyphen to connect compound adjectives or separate syllables or names:
Free-range livestock roam without being fenced in. Send the file to Angela Smith-Kirby.
Notice: No space on either side of the dashes or the hyphen. No space. None.
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