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Old 10-12-2007, 06:24 PM   #1
JSWolf
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What is the correct usage on the em dash?

Is the correct usage of the em dash...

1. word—word
2. word— word
3. word — word

One of them is correct and one is not. Which is it? I have seen different usages in different books. I'd like to make books I format at least consistent with the correct usage. Thanks.
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Old 10-12-2007, 06:28 PM   #2
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I've always been taught #1. But I find what I've been taught doesn't mean much these days.
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Old 10-12-2007, 06:34 PM   #3
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Here's what wikipaedia says: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Em_dash#Em_dash
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Old 10-12-2007, 07:51 PM   #4
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I also believe that #1 (no spaces) is the correct usage. I think it also looks better.
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Old 10-12-2007, 08:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbenny View Post
I also believe that #1 (no spaces) is the correct usage. I think it also looks better.
I just asked my wife who used to teach English in the UK and she said #1 word—word is correct.
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Old 10-12-2007, 09:03 PM   #6
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Interestingly enough, only number 3 does not get flagged by MS Word as misspelling. It is also what I find easier to read.
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Old 10-12-2007, 09:17 PM   #7
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The no-space version also hurts wrapping, since most programs treat “one—two” as a single long word. That's a significant issue, depending on screen size and font size. I always edit the HTML files I'm going to convert to IMP format to change [one][emdash][two] style to [one][space][endash][space][two] format for wrapping reasons.
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Old 10-12-2007, 09:29 PM   #8
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Historically #1 is correct. I favor #3. I also favor only one space after a period at the end of a sentence. (Two if you are using a monospaced font.)

In modern practice #1 and #3 are correct. #2 is correct only when dealing with dates.
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Old 10-12-2007, 09:29 PM   #9
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The Wikipedia article agrees with you on that (two spaces) as an alternative. So, what works . . ..
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Old 10-13-2007, 04:02 AM   #10
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My understanding is that #1 is the strictly correct version, but personally I prefer the appearance of #3.
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Old 10-13-2007, 09:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
...I'd like to make books I format at least consistent with the correct usage. Thanks.
If you're interested in consistency in the e-book world, #1 is what is used by Distributed Proofreaders, the primary source of Gutenberg texts, for what it's worth.
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Old 10-13-2007, 10:39 AM   #12
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For what it's worth, my understanding of current standard usage (at least in the US) is that the parenthetical em dash is set without spaces on either side; for those who dislike the unspaced em dash, the en dash with spaces is the usual alternative.
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Old 10-13-2007, 11:18 AM   #13
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But for situations where you don't have hyphenation, #3 is the better solution as #1 can and does make lines have really poor spacing.
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Old 10-13-2007, 11:33 AM   #14
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But you probably shouldn't use the em-dash if you go for #3, but the shorter en-dash instead.
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Old 10-23-2007, 07:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jadon View Post
The no-space version also hurts wrapping, since most programs treat “one—two” as a single long word. That's a significant issue, depending on screen size and font size. I always edit the HTML files I'm going to convert to IMP format to change [one][emdash][two] style to [one][space][endash][space][two] format for wrapping reasons.
If you use zero width non-joiners you can get the best of both worlds ie:

Code:
‌&emdash;‌
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