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51 votes

What's the best way of being clear that a dash ("–") is being used as subtraction in a written message?

The mathematical symbol - rarely appears between words, because of the likelihood of being misunderstood. If it has some spacing it could be taken as an en dash amount of widgets (total widgets this ...
Weather Vane's user avatar
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20 votes

What's the best way of being clear that a dash ("–") is being used as subtraction in a written message?

I'm going to present a slight frame challenge. Symbols such as -, +, ×, ÷ are best used in formulas, since the context makes their meaning clearer. If you're using prose, I'd suggest phrases such as &...
Syntax Junkie's user avatar
12 votes

Appropriate dash to use when attributing a quotation?

Your example seems to refer to an epigraph, which is a short passage normally used at the start of a book or chapter. There is no "single" answer. It depends entirely on the style guide or in-house ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

Em dash and quotes

Scope and Summary The question concerns the punctuation ‘rules’ for insertion of spaces at the either sides of em-dashes, and in particular whether adjacent quotation marks influence this. Australian ...
David's user avatar
  • 12.9k
9 votes
Accepted

Is the em dash used in formal writing?

Em dashes can be used if allowed by your style guide (but don't use them too often). For example, this is what APA says: First, when would you use an em dash? The Publication Manual (p. 97) notes ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.6k
9 votes

What should one use when introducing dialogue, hyphens, en-dashes or em-dashes?

If you must use something other than quotation marks for dialog, here is The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.) 6.91: Em dashes are occasionally used instead of quotation marks to set off dialogue (à ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
8 votes

Semicolon followed by a dash;—What is it?

A modern discussion of compound points Following the lead of Nicholson Baker in a review of M.B. Parkes's Pause and Effect published in The New York Review of Books, Keith Houston, Shady Characters: ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 164k
8 votes
Accepted

What is Patrick O'Brian trying to convey in this passage from Post Captain? ('Get over, you —,')

The girl is swearing; this is a dash used as a typographical euphemism that's replacing a profane word. That said, it's more common to see these used to replace individual letters ("G-d"), ...
7 votes

Which do you read x' as dash or prime?

In a maths context (at least within physics) in the UK, you would use "prime". If you didn't, you'd say something more specific, like "first derivative of x", as the prime can be used for other ...
Chris H's user avatar
  • 21.8k
7 votes

In Britain, which is more common — the em dash or the en dash?

This is a matter of style, so it's not possible to give a definitive answer on what the correct use is. Different style guides, and different people, will use dashes in different ways. Having said ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
6 votes

Pronunciation of "-" sign, particularly in Unix commands

The comment above is correct in that the term "tac" originated in the Navy, used as a flag separator. This made its way into the Unix environment as the options specified after a command are referred ...
Austin's user avatar
  • 61
6 votes

How to refer to the collection of horizontal line characters?

Unicode now calls all of these "Dash" characters (meaning, they have the "Dash" property, not that their names mention dash): U+002D ‭ - HYPHEN-MINUS U+058A ‭ ֊ ARMENIAN HYPHEN U+05BE ‭ ־ HEBREW ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 135k
6 votes

Comma with Em-dash after Subordinate Clause

No, there should not be a comma in front of either em dash in: When rebounding becomes important—as is the case when playing the Lakers—we need to have John in the game. According to The Chicago ...
Tinfoil Hat's user avatar
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5 votes
Accepted

When writing an informal letter, is it advisable to use the em rule at all?

In an informal letter, you have great deal of leeway as to what punctuation you may reasonably use. In part this is because multiple approaches to punctuation can accomplish the same thing, and in ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 164k
5 votes
Accepted

Are the days of using dashes over?

Yes, the two dashes in the sentence represent "parenthetical phrase" or you can simply say that the dashes set apart any extra information relevant to that particular sentence. The dashes can be ...
Fahad Shaikh's user avatar
4 votes

Em dash and quotes

You ask: Is there a style guide (preferably for Australia or the UK) that addresses this? Or is it just an overlook on Word's part? Consider the (Australian) Monash University style guide on Dashes (...
Lawrence's user avatar
  • 38.7k
4 votes

Which format is most common for representing a number range in U.S. punctuation style and in British punctuation style?

Style advice on how to punctuate a numerical range intersects with style advice on whether to spell out numbers or use numerals. To keep the coverage here shorter than it otherwise would be, however, ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 164k
4 votes
Accepted

Should I use a hyphen, an en dash, or an em dash to define or introduce a word?

What punctuation is used for glossary entries is completely a matter of style. Although The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.) was referenced in different answers, its specific discussion of glossary ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
4 votes

from [time]-[time]

While it's a matter of style and not all style guides give the same guidance on everything, I suspect they would in this specific matter. This is what The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.), 6.78, ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Dash after the prefix "non"

To record and summarize the discussion in the comments, while the OED mostly uses the hyphen, many other dictionaries don't, and the ngrams show higher non-hyphenated usage than hyphenated. Since ...
Kevin's user avatar
  • 2,969
4 votes
Accepted

Which punctuation is best for connecting the latter longer clause in this sentence, or is the comma splice okay?

According to Huddleston & Pullum (2002), when only is used in this way (to mean "but"), it behaves in some respects like a coordinator and in some ways like a preposition with a clausal ...
alphabet's user avatar
  • 18.8k
4 votes
Accepted

Comma with Em-dash after Subordinate Clause

No, it is correct without a comma. If the visually displeasing nature of When rebounding becomes important,—as is the case when playing the Lakers—we need to have John in the game. isn’t good enough ...
GrammarCop's user avatar
3 votes

Em dash and quotes

I will quote sections from the Chicago Manual of Style (13th edition). This is an American source. Em dash (—) is used: for a break in thought (§ 5.83) for an element added to give ...
rajah9's user avatar
  • 16.3k
3 votes

Which format is most common for representing a number range in U.S. punctuation style and in British punctuation style?

The Chicago Manual of Style (13th ed) says in section 5.92: The en dash is one-half the length of an em dash and is longer than a hyphen. The principal use of the en dash is to indicate ...
rajah9's user avatar
  • 16.3k
3 votes

Date Range help!

This question takes us into the area of discretionary punctuation. Different style guides have different preferences on these points, and it seems to me that there is no compelling reason to prefer ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 164k
3 votes

Is it correct to say "inter- disciplinary/national" instead of "interdisciplinary and international"?

First off, to follow a hyphen with a space where it's supposed to be joined to a word is just wrong. That said, your proposed use is not easy to make sense of because, while inter-disciplinary might ...
Andrew Leach's user avatar
  • 102k
3 votes

I tend to overuse the hyphen as a pause, and would appreciate some feedback on this

Speaking very technically, to a typesetter that’s not a hyphen — it’s a dash. One possible easy-to-remember way to keep them straight is “Hyphens join. Dashes separate.” The full stop (period), ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 135k

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