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?

d) If you have parenthetical text, your sentence is too complicated
for user interface text. Rewrite it.

But if we're going to write guidelines, here's my semi-professinal

* Using hyphens instead of dashes for parenthetical text is awful.
Using unspaced hyphens-like this-is downright confusing.

* I'm old and I like unspaced em-dashes (a). A lot of people these
days are switching to spaced en-dashes (b). I think that trend will

* Spaced em-dashes (c) are way too wide.

* Unspaced en-dashes are for indicating ranges. We should use those
too, though the hyphen isn't quite as ugly when misused in this case.


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