Re: En-dash versus em-dash (was: Re: Using the Unicode ellipsis =?UTF-8?Q?=28=E2=80=A6=29?= instead of three periods)

On Mon, 2012-12-10 at 12:50 +0100, Robin Stocker wrote:
> Philip Withnall wrote:
> > I’ve created which I
> > think covers everything discussed in this thread so far. Please feel
> > free to add further suggestions to it, or move things from the
> > ‘discussion’ to the ‘agreed’ list.
> Looks good. The only thing I’d like to discuss is the use of a spaced
> em-dash:
> > Em-dash (U+2014, ‘—’) rather than a hyphen (‘-’) in longer descriptive
> > strings.  The em-dash should be used similarly to a colon — to mark an
> > abrupt change or conclusion to a sentence. For example: “hyphens should
> > not be used — they are too narrow” rather than “hyphens should not be
> > used - they are too narrow”.
> I agree that hyphens should not be used for the above purposes. The
> common alternatives are the following:
> a) Em-dash without spaces: Hyphens should not be used—they are too narrow
> b) En-dash with spaces: Hyphens should not be used – they are too narrow
> c) Em-dash with spaces: Hyphens should not be used — they are too narrow
> (Please remember to look at these examples in a proportional font, not
> a fixed-width one.)
> Also see the following section about this:
> IMO either style a) or b) from above should be chosen, as they are more
> widely used than c) in general.
> I personally prefer b), because a) “glues” the words together and c)
> spaces them too far apart.
> Any other opinions on this?

Good point. I guess we first need to make the distinction between dashes
being used parenthetically – like this – and dashes which are used to
conclude a sentence — like this.

As the third paragraph you cite on Wikipedia points out, word spacing
can be messed up if dashes are not surrounded by spaces, so that limits
us to styles b) and c) in both cases.

In order to differentiate between parenthetical and conclusive use, I
suggest we go with b) for parenthetical usage and c) for demarcating
conclusions or abrupt changes in the sentence.

However, this doesn’t fit with any particular manual of style. IMO,
spaced em-dashes work well, but nobody else seems to think that.

Disclaimer: I’m en_GB. I’m not entirely sure that en_GB speakers should
be deciding the style to use in the C locale, given that manuals of
style differ between the UK and the US.


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