21 September 2009

Dashing Their Way Into Our Hearts?

Are we using the dash correctly? Or, more specifically, are you? I know I'm not. I just read this article about the dash. Well, to be cruelly honest, I had a topic to write about, then promptly forgot, but I saw a link to an article about the dash on my Google home page, so decided to talk about it. That doesn't mean it doesn't also have relevance to normal topics as well.
Well, I have to say, I learned quite a bit in the article, not least how to actually make a dash in Microsoft Word. Be forewarned: a dash is NOT a hyphen. Most keyboards don't actually have the ability to make a dash. The key after 9 makes a (-) hyphen, not a dash. There are two types of dashes, the "n" dash and the "m" dash. These are so called because of the amount of space they take up. In order to make a "n" dash in word, simply put a hyphen in between spaces: "Sam - even though she fears them terribly - went to the doctor with me today." Note the spaces. This autmaticaicallly changes the hyphen to a dash in word. To make an "M" dash, do not put spaces. "Sam—even though she fears them terribly—went to the doctor with me today." Notice there are no spaces. This makes a longer dash, of course.
I have a feeling that this is totally debatable, so I wouldn't say the use of dashes/hyphens is too much to be worried about. I would worry more about the actual writing bit.

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