Robin Hawke

Punctuation Rant (em dash)
October 6, 2011, 3:37 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Oh, the em dash!

It’s not a hyphen; it’s not a dash, or the length of the letter ‘n’.

It’s longer, twice ‘n’, one ‘m’.

I want an em dash on my keyboard.

Used properly, there is no space before, no space after, like xox, not x o x.

It’s absent from comment boxes—I’m forced to use a dash dash or space dash space, or rewrite. Don’t tell me there’s a number code or html snippet I can use. Have you seen them? Can you remember them? Do they ever work, except when coding?

Devil take the empty box that signifies unknown character; I want the em dash to appear in emails with all its linear beauty.

The em dash is a long jump. Its length communicates the distance between phrases: positioned to tickle the word before it, to scratch the word that comes.

Oh, the em dash!


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I like how you personify the em dash! So awesome! 🙂

Comment by lynnette-net

Thanks! If I can ever figure out my feelings about the mighty comma, I’ll let you know! Robin

Comment by Robin Hawke

The em dash deserves more respect than it receives. I have to admit that because of the lack of em dash availability, I use a hyphen with a space on either side when necessary. It’s not right, and I know it’s not right, but a hyphen by itself will simply never measure up when the em dash is required.

Comment by Liz Shaw

I use two dashes in a row and then stare in mortification when a comment is posted and only one appears. I’m following your lead! Robin

Comment by Robin Hawke

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