What’s the Big Deal with Dashes?

Hello everyone!

I was recently editing a chapter book, and I needed one character to interrupt another.  I knew I should use a dash, but which one?  Below is a summary of what each type of dash does.  I threw in the hyphen for good measure.

Primary Uses

hyphen and dashesHyphen

  • Compound nouns, verbs, and adjectives

En Dash

  • Date, time, and number ranges
  • Scores
  • Shows conflict or connection between two things or ideas

emphatic (3)Em Dash

  • Interruptions
  • Instead of commas, parentheses, or colons (Em dashes are more emphatic and less formal than the other forms of punctuation.)
  • Two em dashes replace missing or omitted letters or words

For a more comprehensive list of uses and examples of how each type of punctuation is used, read the articles below.  (They are the ones I found most helpful when deciding which form of punctuation to use.)

“Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes” by The Chicago Manual of Style Online

“Hyphen” by The Punctuation Guide

“En dash” by The Punctuation Guide

“Em dash” by The Punctuation Guide

Happy writing!

Katie

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