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When to use "-" "..." or "--"

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I really don't know the rules on when to use a dash or "..." or two dashes. But I need to learn them. Does someone have a good explanation or a link?
#1 - May 04, 2013, 08:00 PM
THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC (Boyds Mills Press, Fall 2018)

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Can't give you a link, but I can recommend two books I use a lot. One is Painless Grammar by Rebecca Elliott and the other is The Grammar Bible by Michael Strumpf.  The first book is very fun to read (really!) and gives several examples for each thing. The second book covers more items and is more comprehensive.
#2 - May 04, 2013, 09:03 PM
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Ah, the old em dash and en dash! This should help. http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/dashes.asp

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#3 - May 05, 2013, 05:34 AM
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My favorite grammar book is GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT by Anne Stilman. It covers EVERYTHING without being thick and heavy, and in a readable, entertaining style.
#4 - May 05, 2013, 05:40 AM
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Thank you all for the suggestions. I had the books on my kindle
#5 - May 05, 2013, 10:57 AM

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Knowing what they're called may help you look them up. :)

... ellipsis
- en dash
-- em dash
#6 - May 05, 2013, 11:14 AM
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Personally, I never worry about it. I just use whatever "feels" right to me at the moment. That's one of the things that copy editors do in production of a book. They change the punctuation to whatever format that particular house prefers to use. :redtape But I can see that I SHOULD be looking these up and learning when to use them. :hiding
#7 - May 05, 2013, 11:31 AM
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The em dash should actually be a longer dash. Not knowing how to type an em dash using my iPhone in my previous post, I settled for using two en dashes instead. But I wasn't satisfied with this, so I googled it and learned that I can type a proper em dash using an iPhone—yay! (And there it is—see?)

FYI: In Word, if you type two en dashes and then press enter, it automatically converts the two shorter dashes to one long em dash.
#8 - May 05, 2013, 11:56 AM
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 :whitebunnyOn my iPad, if I hold down the - key, three options pop up for characters... – — and •. I just highlight the one I want and there it is. That trick of holding down a key to get more options works on many keys, by the way. Like the zero key for ° degrees, the dollar key for ¢ cents or other monetary symbols, period/question mark for quotes ", comma/ exclamation point for an apostrophe ', or on the second screen the period gives you … ellipses. On the third screen there's a few more options.
#9 - May 05, 2013, 12:10 PM
Verla Kay

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It seems to be the same on an iPhone. I'd noticed that holding down the letters e and a, brings up accent marks over the vowels, which I've used on occasion when typing French words. But for some reason, I hadn't yet discovered it with the em dash or ellipsis. I'm trés excited by this new discovery—I love ellipses and em dashes…
#10 - May 05, 2013, 12:25 PM
Even Superheroes Make Mistakes (Sterling, 2018)
Even Superheroes Have Bad Days (Sterling, 2016)
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Knowing what they're called may help you look them up. :)

... ellipsis
- en dash
-- em dash

Okay Miss smartypants. haha Thanks!
And thanks for the link, that really did help. I have been using an en dash when I should be using an em dash. Good to know.
#11 - May 05, 2013, 03:02 PM
THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC (Boyds Mills Press, Fall 2018)

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I'm with Verla. And I'll hide with her, too.  :hiding
#12 - May 05, 2013, 04:42 PM

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I have been using an en dash when I should be using an em dash. Good to know.

It's not quite as clear cut as that article makes it sound, though I know she does say 'most common uses' and means to keep it simple. But don't be surprised if you follow her advice and your thoughtfully chosen ems are changed to ens in copyedits.

Plenty of places don't use ems at all, preferring ens for parenthetical clauses etc  as well as spans of all kinds. It often simply comes down to house style. And  then there's the question of whether they're spaced or not, which is also a house style issue. The article says 'most authorities' don't space but that hasn't been my experience over 20 years of copyediting.

Possibly also worth noting the difference between ellipsis and dash at the end of dialogue ie trailing off = ellipsis, interrupted speech = dash. This is something that is a more general rule, rather than being specific to house style, so can be a handy one to learn.
#13 - May 05, 2013, 06:29 PM

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if I hold down the - key, three options pop up for characters... – — and •. I just highlight the one I want and there it is. That trick of holding down a key to get more options works on many keys, by the way. Like the zero key for ° degrees, the dollar key for ¢ cents or other monetary symbols, period/question mark for quotes ", comma/ exclamation point for an apostrophe ', or on the second screen the period gives you … ellipses. On the third screen there's a few more options.

Filing this in my personal, "you really DO learn something new every day" file. I didn't know these. I also found this works on the Kindle Fire.

Thanks Verla
#14 - May 13, 2013, 02:16 PM

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'Cause I could use the help---...
#15 - May 14, 2013, 06:56 AM
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