1. John Carlo
    Offline

    John Carlo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Long Island, New York

    em dash on a mac

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Carlo, Nov 5, 2010.

    Hey there,
    Does anybody know how to make the em dash using Word on a mac? I've just been using a regular old dash with a space between the words and the dash. And for a while now, I've been noticing that the em dash in novels is longer than a regular dash, and has no spaces, but I haven't found a key on the keyboard to do this.

    Here's an example of how I've been doing it:

    I use em dashes pretty frequently - probably more than I should.

    And I can't just double it up, because it just looks like this --. Anybody know how to do this properly?
     
  2. John Carlo
    Offline

    John Carlo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Never mind. I got it. For anyone else who wants to know—it's shift, option, dash. Hold all three down and you get —
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    Word should automatically correct it anyway, if you type a hypen with spaces around it. Open Office does as well, though I think I had to find a setting in the auto correct options and tick it. :D
     
  4. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    if typing mss for submission, you should be using the double hyphen with no space fore or aft...
     
  5. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    That gives an en-dash, not an em-dash (at least with UK English settings). It also only works if you put a space either side of the dash (otherwise it assumes it's a hyphen and leaves it alone), which isn't what you'd want for an em-dash.
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Maia beat ne to it.

    This is an em-dash for manuscript: --
     
  7. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    So presumably you should remember to turn off the feature in many word processors to replace -- with an en-dash (or maybe not, because there aren't usually spaces either side of an em-dash.

    If -- is an em-dash in an mss, what does one do for an en-dash? I'm used to using laTeX, which uses -- for en-dash and --- for em-dash. I suppose an en-dash doesn't come up that often in fiction.
     
  8. John Carlo
    Offline

    John Carlo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Okay, now I'm confused again. If there is a way to write the em dash the way it would appear in a book, why would this not be acceptable in a manuscript? And also, doing a quick google search, you'll find that an em dash is --- while an en dash is --

    Can someone clear this up for me?
     
  9. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    The only places Google finds for me where an em-dash is '---' relate to TeX and its relatives. That's a particular typesetting program that is much used for technical writing but not for fiction so it's probably not relevant to you.

    My guess as to why publishers want '--' instead of a real em-dash is that it's what their proof-readers expect (they don't want to have to judge every time whether a dash is an em-dash, an en-dash, a minus sign or a hyphen), and it's probably what their typesetters expect. If you've done much moving of documents between different computer systems you'll know that special characters such as the em-dash are particularly prone to getting corrupted or lost. Unicode makes that better, but it's still better to stick with the ASCII set unless you know what's going to happen to the document. The same would apply to left and right opening quotes, by the way -- Cog, should smart quoting be turned off too?
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Manuscript standards derive from typewritten manuscripts, and typewriters don't come with an em-dash. Besides that, it's easier to distinguish - from -- in a manuscript than to try distinguish - from — when surrounded by text, and in some fonts the latter distinction is even harder to see.
     
  11. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    Huh, so what is the correct way to use it then? Because I've always just used a long dash - with spaces - like that there. Should it have been a -- with the spaces around it or not or what?
     
  12. John Carlo
    Offline

    John Carlo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Long Island, New York

    Same here, Mel.

    So just to clarify, I should be using -- for an em-dash instead of —. And I suppose the very rare en-dash should just be the standard single dash. Is this about right? I just want to put this issue to bed. I've already gone through four chapters changing all my single dashes with spaces around them to an actual em-dash. Now I have to go back to change them to double dashes.
     
  13. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yes, in mss to be submitted, use the double hyphen with no space before or after it, to signify an em dash...

    there is no need to use an en dash in creative writing and since it's so close to the same size as a hyphen [in some fonts, exactly the same], no one will know which you meant, anyway...
     
  14. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    So it should look like this:

    (scuse the examples, my porn-o-riffic NaNoWriMo is my open document :p)

    ?

    (I currently have it as:

    which I'm guessing isn't right?)
     

Share This Page