What is the proper punctuation for broken dialogue? I have the following line:

"I just never expected you to be so—" she looked Dan up and down "—human," she finished.

I believe that is the correct way to write that, but I'm not sure. Is there a comma before the dialogue resumes? Do I need spaces before and after the dashes, or are they right next to the words like I have them?

If you could point me in the right direction, that would be great.


An em dash is usually used only when the dialogue is broken in the middle of a word.

"As I was trying to expl—"

For your example it would be customary to surround the break with em dashes, like so:

"I just never expected you to be so"—she looked Dan up and down—"human," she finished.

  • I'm guessing that spaces around the dashes are writer preference? – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Oct 30 '16 at 17:21
  • Newspapers typically insert spaces while literary authors typically don't. – R.J.C. Nov 1 '16 at 4:40

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