Update at end of blog post.
I this installment of Dante’s blog I thought I would share with you a few writing tips. These tips were given to me by a friend. I’m in no way the originator of these tips. The tips I will share with you today involve the usage of En Dash, Em Dash and Ellipse Marks.
En Dash versus Em Dash
There are many uses of the en and em dash and also many ways to form these dashes using your computer. The following explanations offer the most common uses and methods for forming these dashes.
An en dash, roughly the width of an n, is a little longer than a hyphen. It is used for periods of time when you might otherwise use to.
The years 2001–2003
An en dash is also used in place of a hyphen when combining open compounds.
North Carolina–Virginia border
a high school–college conference
Most authorities recommend using no spaces before or after en or em dashes. To form an en dash with most PCs, type the first number or word, then hold down the ALT key while typing 0150 on the numerical pad on the right side of your keyboard. Then type the second number or word.
An em dash is the width of an m. Use an em dash sparingly in formal writing. In informal writing, em dashes may replace commas, semicolons, colons, and parentheses to indicate added emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought.
You are the friend—the only friend—who offered to help me.
Never have I met such a lovely person—before you.
I pay the bills—she has all the fun.
A semicolon would be used here in formal writing.
I need three items at the store—dog food, vegetarian chili, and cheddar cheese.
Remember, a colon would be used here in formal writing.
My agreement with Fiona is clear—she teaches me French and I teach her German.
Again, a colon would work here in formal writing.
Please call my agent—Jessica Cohen—about hiring me.
Parentheses or commas would work just fine here instead of the dashes.
I wish you would—oh, never mind.
This shows an abrupt change in thought and warrants an em dash.
To form an em dash on most PCs, type the first word, then hold down the ALT key while typing 0151 on the numerical pad on the right side of your keyboard. Then type the second word. You may also form an em...
(I see ellipsis marks that are incorrectly used all the time. Please read these ellipsis marks rules and apply them to your writing. Do not use ellipsis marks as a pause, the correct punctuation for that is a comma.)
In grammar and rhetoric, the omission of one or more words, which must be supplied by the listener or reader.
Ellipses signal, in addition to elision, a faltering or trailing off (in which case they are sometimes called suspension points), but to prepare the reader for an abrupt break or interruption in thought, use an em dash.
The primary function of ellipsis marks are to omit one or more inconsequential words from a quotation, as in these examples:
"Four score ... our fore fathers"
1,2,3,4 ... 10.
Think of it as yadda-de-yadd or blah-blah-blah.
(1) Ellipsis and em-dash in dialogue:
“Jonathan, please, what I meant was…”
“What? What did you mean?”
Compare the above to this:
“Jonathan, please, what I meant was—”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses. It’s too late.”
Can you see how the first example is the first speaker trailing off and the second example has the first speaker being cut off?
(2) In dialogue use an em-dash as a pause/break that does not represent omitted words:
There it was again—that loud, terrifying scratching.
I have been made aware of an issue involving the Em-dash on Macs using the Scrivener software. for further information check out Michael Corbin Ray's blog on the subject.