1. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Dashes and hyphens with MS Word

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lameri, Apr 26, 2011.

    I am using Tahoma (font) and I'm getting confused at what Word does. If I enter:
    1) A date range, like 1950-1960, it shows a hyphen.
    2) A space, followed by a hyphen or two and immediately a word, it makes it an en dash.
    3) A word, followed by two hyphens, it makes an em dash.

    I'm not sure what logic it's using, but I read some controversy in whether both the hyphen and the en dash should be combined, and only differentiated from the em dash. What is your opinion?
    Thank you.
     
  2. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    You can control that in AutoCorrect. It is now set to do the conversion; just untick that box. (convert -- into em dash is under the subtab AutoFormat in Word 2003)
     
  3. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Word puts a en or em dash wherever you say to. If you put two hyphens, it'll convert it to an em dash. A space-dash-space, and it will make it an en dash. But it doesn't know any rules or logic. It's only doing what it's told.

    I've heard you can ignore the en dash and just use a regular hyphen, too, but the rules about where to use an en dash are hardly confusing. Use it to show numerical ranges (like 1960-1970) and when you use a hyphen in a compound word where one of the parts of the compound contains a space, like "pre-American Colonial." So I don't see why you can't use hyphens and en dashes the way they're intended/
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    hyphen and en dash are virtually indistinguishable from each other, so don't fret about which of those to use where... most writers just use the hyphen, as it's right there on the keyboard and nobody will know, or care...

    em dashes are automatically placed by ms word, but can easily enough be changed back to the double hyphen for a ms, if you want...
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You can also delete the AutoCorrect entry that converts the double hyphen to an em-dash.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Say what? I've checked in a pile of fonts, and in all of them the en dash is about twice the length of then hyphen (and the em dash is about twice the length of the en dash). They are conspicuously different! (the minus sign and the hyphen, on the other hand...)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i stand [sit] corrected!

    since i use courier new font for my mss and in that font, they're virtually the same, i just never realized there was such a difference in other fonts...
     

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