John H. Ridge, J.D., Ph.D. Superior, Colorado
Common Writing Rules I Commonly Forget, Part Three
“What the semicolon’s anxious supporters fret about is the tendency of contemporary writers to use a dash instead of a semicolon and thus precipitate the end of the world. Are they being alarmist?
~ Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Hyphens, em-dashes, and en-dashes are being used with greater and greater frequency in legal writing. T is article—which is the third in a series addressing grammar problems that I repeatedly forget and frequently need to look up—addresses the easily forgotten and overlooked rules governing the uses of hyphens and dashes.
Hyphens and dashes have distinct sizes. The following chart illustrates and discusses the different sizes of these symbols.
|Hyphen||-||• The hyphen is created by striking the key to the right of the number “0” on a standard keyboard.|
|En-dash||–||• The en-dash is the same width as the letter n. • In Microsoft Word, the en-dash can be inserted similar to other symbols or by creating shortcut keys.|
|Em-dash||—||• The em-dash is the same width as the letter m. • In Microsoft Word, the em-dash can be inserted similar to other symbols or by creating shortcut keys. • Some word processing programs automatically convert double hyphens into em-dashes.|
|Double En-dash||––||• The double en-dash is created by entering two en-dashes in a row.|
|Triple Em-dash||———||• The triple em-dash is created by entering three em-dashes in a row.|