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A sentence is causing some discussion in the office - it's about a Nylon product. We are not sure if we should use an en-dash, em-dash, semi-colon, or something else entirely. I thought an em-dash was in order for this one, but we cannot come to an agreement.

The white polyurethane coated 70D Nylon fabric is hard wearing and waterproof – a very practical blend of weight, strength and handling.

Any expertise on this matter would be greatly appreciated!

  • Personally, I would avoid using dashes or semicolons because of the type of disagreement you describe. I would suggest the following: Polyurethane-coated 70D-Nylon fabrics are wear resistant, light, and waterproof. – xiota May 25 '18 at 8:02
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There is no "right" answer here. It's a matter of style and preference.

I would see if your company has a style guide and refer to it.

If it doesn't, then here are some common options.

In North America, a closed em dash:

The white polyurethane-coated 70D Nylon fabric is hard-wearing and waterproof—a very practical blend of weight, strength and handling.

In the UK, an open en dash:

The white polyurethane-coated 70D Nylon fabric is hard-wearing and waterproof – a very practical blend of weight, strength and handling.

In either country, if you use a semicolon (or a period), you need to add some text:

The white polyurethane-coated 70D Nylon fabric is hard-wearing and waterproof; it is a very practical blend of weight, strength and handling.

The white polyurethane-coated 70D Nylon fabric is hard-wearing and waterproof. It is a very practical blend of weight, strength and handling.


Note that I have also added a couple of hyphens to your sentence.

Also note that nylon does not normally take a capital form. But I left it with a capital here because I'm assuming that 70D Nylon is a proper name.

Finally, if you're in North America, it's more common to use a serial comma than not. (The reverse is true in the UK.) In other words, you may or may not want to write weight, strength[,] and handling.

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    May I suggest inserting a couple of hyphens, as follows: "The white polyurethane-coated 70D Nylon fabric is hard-wearing and waterproof—a very practical blend of weight, strength and handling." – tautophile May 25 '18 at 4:55
  • @tautophile Excellent, thanks. (Edited.) I hadn't been paying attention to that part of the sentence. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica May 25 '18 at 5:00
  • Thanks! Really helpful and very insightful in regards to the American/UK usage. We are in Australia so we fall moreso under the UK grammar guidelines, however we are multinational so it's good to know the other options. – Benjamin Clark May 25 '18 at 5:50
  • which are doesn't agree with its antecedent. – KarlG May 25 '18 at 11:30
  • As I recall, the Chicago Manual offers a choice of n-dash with spaces or m-dash with none. I remember because I prefer m-dash with spaces for most fonts. – KarlG May 25 '18 at 11:36
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Only an em dash or comma would be appropriate (what you have now is an en dash):

The white polyurethane coated 70D Nylon fabric is hard wearing and waterproof—a very practical blend of weight, strength and handling.

I'd prefer using an em dash for both rhetorical effect and to avoid using too many commas.

  • en dash: used to join number ranges (e.g., 1990–2000). Alternatively, sometimes used as a separator in titles of articles or blogs (e.g., "Lead a Healthy Lifestyle – Your Guide to Losing Weight").

  • semicolon: separates two independent clauses. In this case, "a very practical blend of weight, strength and handling" is a dependent clause—it cannot stand on its own. Therefore, using a semicolon would not be appropriate.

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