sep 22


The hyphen is dying -- BBC mag investigates.


I would like to advocate for hyphen vs. dash awareness and press for space usage around dashes. It can sometimes be confusing when someone is using a hyphen as a dash and doesn't put any spaces around it. It can look like they are making a hyphenated word instead of a sort of embedded side comment. I think a double hyphen (if your wp doesn't autoconvert it to a dash) bookended with spaces is nice and clear. Observe.

The main use of dashes -- in formal grammar, at least -- is to set off parenthetical material.

I think it looks much better than this, which I often see.

The main use of dashes-in formal grammar, at least-is to set off parenthetical material.

It's worse when the parenthetical material ends the sentence, meaning no terminal dash(es) are needed. So you've just got this essentially hyphenated-looking word in the middle of your sentence. Sometimes it's not confusing but often it is.

If double hyphens is too much, I can live with singles so long as we agree on spaces.

Rise up, brethren and sistren. Demand sentence clarity.

posted by Eric at 11:05 AM on September 22, 2007

Seconded. In my print design world, I now enforce thin-space/en-dash/thin-space in, say, 4 - 6 pm situations. This 'a list apart' article really opened my eyes to this stuff, although ironically i'm much more strict about it in print then in web.

I'd advocate for operating systems that are smart enough to cut-n-paste these characters from web environments to InDesign documents (etc).

posted by alesh at 10:48 PM on September 22, 2007

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

posted by Hyphen at 12:08 PM on September 25, 2007

Funny thing, how each person takes his house style as gospel. As long as there's consistency, ems, ens, and hyphens are all beautiful to me.

posted by Eloise at 3:02 PM on September 25, 2007

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