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How to Fix Numerous m-dashes in a ms

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First, I have a confession. I like m-dashes quite a lot. However, I've typed them wrong, with spaces (I think because when I'm typing away I'm used to space bar, dash, dash which converts it to an m-dash and since I like symmetry, I add another space before the next word). So it looks like this: I do exactly as he says – toe the line, dot the i, and cross the t.  [Wait, it doesn't copy and paste the m-dash, but trust me, it is longer in the ms].

But what I need for it to be is like this [skip the spaces]: I do exactly as he says–toe the line, dot the i, and cross the t.

Now I like the find and replace feature but I can't get it to recognize the m-dash. Please tell me a trick because the thought of doing this manually is not very pleasing to me. I'm really at the nitty-gritty stages of editing (in fact I missed that last comma in that sentence so I just fixed that).

Thank you for your help. Vijaya
#1 - April 10, 2017, 07:15 PM
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 07:19 PM by Vijaya »
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Vijaya, I use Word for Mac but I imagine it's similar to yours. Here are a couple of things to try.
*Copy an example of  -- from your ms and put that in Find bar.
*Go to Edit/Find/Advanced Find and Replace and do it that way. Be sure to look in the "Special" box for an em dash in both the Find and Replace tabs. I'd still do the replacements one at a time because things could get weird fast if you try to do a global Search and Replace.
#2 - April 10, 2017, 07:37 PM

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Vijaya, Are m dashes wrong? I like and use them a lot, too. (Hope you don't mind the question.)
#3 - April 10, 2017, 09:07 PM
Anita N. Amin

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Starfish, nope, m-dashes aren't wrong but they should be used appropriately. I find that I often have asides, so they go in parentheses, but the m-dash brings attention to the words inside them so if you don't want to bring attention to them, better to use commas.

Anne, thanks for that. Will try on a shorter ms first. Why yes, I've learned the funny errors that pop up when you do a global find and replace. As a short story writer, it's fine, but for a 70K+ novel I get a little nervous. I will read through after this round is finished to make sure I didn't introduce more errors and will probably delete those extra spaces when I come across them.
#4 - April 11, 2017, 07:24 AM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
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I few years ago I was sitting around a table at a well known conference with an editor from Hyperion, and one of the first things she said was, "Okay, let's get m-dashes straight." Then she told us exactly how to do it. Her instructions included spaces on each side of the dash, so that's what I did. A couple of years later, I found another authority said that m-dashes don't have spaces on either side. Some one else later said, "Writing styles vary from house to house. Just be consistent."

I am happy to do what an editor or agent wants, but sometimes it hard, if not impossible, to know what that is.  :gaah

Sorry, I'm no help at all with your search-and-replace problem.  :hiding
#5 - April 11, 2017, 07:45 AM

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Pons, thank you for sharing that. I am very consistent in putting spaces before and after m-dashes. Maybe I'll just leave them be until it's picked up for publication :grin3
#6 - April 11, 2017, 09:31 AM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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